My Gift To You
second CD to go on general release in New Zealand was ‘My
Gift To You’ and what a wonderful gift it must have made.
It was recorded in 2001 when Hayley was still only fourteen.
All I Have To Give
The orchestral introduction begins its slow and melancholy theme
but within a few seconds, starts to build into something gentle
and serene above which Hayley’s voice rings out in its
usual joyous fashion. As always, every word is crystal clear
and her voice sounds so confident for someone of any age, let
alone just fourteen.
You’ll Never Walk Alone
This Rodgers and Hammerstein song is familiar to everyone but
I don’t remember ever hearing it from a female vocalist
before. The backing vocals throughout are perfectly balanced
to allow Hayley to easily project above them.
Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire
This announces that it is Christmastime and conjures up a picture
of days gone by when people really did roast chestnuts on an
open fire. The song’s gentle mood is a perfect vehicle
to display Hayley’s sensational voice. There is a pleasing
instrumental break between verses which is, perhaps, reminiscent
of Mantovani’s typically cascading strings. Hayley returns
with the final verse to wish us all a Merry Christmas.
Mary Did You Know?
Still on a Christmas theme, Hayley admirably covers this charming
song. The vocal style (and overall arrangement) is slightly
bluesy with perfectly executed vocal slurs. The only backing
comes from guitars and bass, which allow us to really focus
on the quality of Hayley’s voice.
The Peace Song
As with several songs on this album, this track is very gentle
and reminds one of sitting by the fireside on a cold Christmas
night. It evokes a feeling of peace and serenity. Hayley’s
amazing voice control during the long-sustained high note at
the end is worthy of note.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
There is a real bonus for all Westenra fans here - the second
vocalist who echoes relevant lines of the melody. The first
time I heard it was before I had read the sleeve notes and I
imagined it sounded as Hayley might have done two or three years
earlier. That is not surprising as the guest vocalist is Hayley’s
sister, Sophie – surely another star in the making. Delightful.
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Remember the scene? “I don’t think we’re in
Kansas anymore, Toto!” No we’re not. Hayley (rather
than Dorothy) transports us to the Land of Oz in a way that,
for me, Judy Garland could never do. Okay, so I am biased –
just a bit! This version is lovely. The soaring melody, with
its leap of one full octave, on the word ‘Somewhere’
is captivating. Softly plucked mandolins enhance the tranquil
mood. With the melody gently slowing down throughout the final
verse, it really makes you want to drift off to the Land of
Dreams…. Or Oz…. (Or Christchurch!).
This less familiar traditional song features a piano more prominently
than occurs in others. It suits the mood well with the strings
and backing vocals in quiet support.
This has to be the song currently most associated with Hayley.
There is something strangely comforting in the realisation that
she has been singing it for years and that she still wished
to include it on ‘Pure’. Here, the first verse is
sung unaccompanied. Then, with only minimal instrumental backing,
which slowly builds up to a more full sound that is absolutely
gorgeous, it is evocative of a South Sea Island paradise. I
particularly liked this song when I first heard it. The more
I hear it, the more I love it. Thank you Hayley; this is a real
Through These Eyes
This song was not familiar to me and I know nothing about it.
The first verse sounds just a little ordinary except for Hayley’s
voice, of course, but then we come to the chorus which is quite
magical. The melody comes alive and sparkles. This song is greatly
enhanced once again by the addition of Sophie singing in harmony
in the choruses. I would give anything to see the two of them
in concert together. Let’s hope they do someday.
Morning Has Broken
The instrumental arrangement is very similar to the Cat Stevens
version that became so popular all those years ago. Hayley’s
vocal rings out above it in a way that reminds us that this
is actually a song of praise (albeit not strictly a hymn). Beautiful.
We end this delightful album by returning once more to its primary
theme of Christmas. The first verse is sung completely unaccompanied.
Instrumentation always fascinates and excites me but here I
almost wish that she had sung the entire song unaccompanied,
such is the pleasure of hearing her amazing voice.
this is undeniably a Christmas album, it is one that will be
played all the year through. Overall, it is another spectacular
success for a very young Hayley and I am sure that if it could
only be released worldwide, together with the earlier self-titled
CD (perhaps as a double album), and on the back of the success
of ‘Pure’, it would sell by the million.
Reviews Menu 2003