I have been a fan of Hayley Westenra for what, five years now? Perhaps six. It was her album Pure that I first heard and fell in love with; her voice is absolutely wonderful to the ear. Her newest album, Paradiso, has finally been released in the US, and it leaves me satisfied.
What I love about Hayley (well, one of the things) is that even though she started out as a young artist and even though she has a background with classical crossover, she has made it a point to only keep on working harder. Her ability to control her voice has only improved over the years--because she has kept improving herself. She has not let herself be a part of a fad or a phase; she is here to stay.
Paradiso is a beautiful album, showing off her voice rather well. The background music is never too much to counter her, but adds an artful presence to the songs. May I say it again? Hayley has grown so much. This album reminds me of Pure in many ways, but reinterpreted with more knowledge and experience (I hate that phrasing; it sounds as if I am calling Pure immature, which I most certainly am not; I simply mean that Hayley has built up her career even more since then). There is a nice mix of languages, as well. English, Italian, Portuguese, etc. It is much more a straight classical album than Hayley has previously released, I would say, yet those who have enjoyed her work (even if for its crossover sense) will stay enjoy it. It's exceedingly balanced and well-produced.
"La califfa" and "Metti una sera a cena" are two of my favorites, but the one that most awakens my mind is "Amalia por amor." That song is stunning. It takes me places. . . I think I have created a whole emotional story around it. And it's great to hear Hayley singing in Portuguese; that's new and fun. (Did I just use the word "fun?")
Anyway, a fabulous album for fans of Hayley Westenra, of classical music, and of a calming yet absolutely clear voice.