Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

  • Mood:

Hayley Westenra - Kiwi Charlotte Church

Hayley Westenra's PR flacks say don't compare her to Charlotte Church, but the voices are so similar it's impossible not to. Hayley has that youthful, crystal clear soprano which cuts through a room like a laser. I first heard her on Pandora.com, a tune from her Odyssey album called Never Saw Blue. It was very pretty, but it was a showcase for a spectacular voice rather than an expression of emotional lyrics. I was hoping she had more depth than that, seeing as her bio shows a long list of child star roles in Christchurch musicals and work as a street singer.

So I bought Odyssey and her double album Pure and gave them a listen. Sad to say, Never Saw Blue is one of maybe three tunes in which she shows any capacity at all for telling the story of the song. And that's where comparing her to Ms. Church would be wrong - it would be an insult to Ms. Church.

And it's probably a reason she is mostly unknown in the US. She has an amazing voice, and her technical skills are superb, but she sells her pipes, and not the song. The albums go one step further in the wrong direction by featuring a few songs in the Maori language, but she isn't Maori, and the arrangements are done up so whitebread that I'm expecting an advertising tag line at the end for Twinkies. Though there is a wide variety of songs on the CDs, they mostly sound the same.

It's very sad. Her voice is one in a hundred million. In New Zealand she'll be able to continue to be the "home town girl makes good" forever, but if she hopes to make it in the rest of the world, she'll need to find some good teachers to show her that words are not mere sounds to push out of her lungs. With a couple of small exceptions, the two albums remind me of Italian vowel exercises we do for warm-ups before going onstage for a musical. She's young. There's time.

Edit add: someone left an anonymous comment about the Maori connection which I will be happy to have here if it is submitted from a logged-in LJ account.
Tags: review

  • Running Battles

    Am having a running battle with lemmozine on FB and here about the chronologically challenged people flooding into the US without parents…

  • I Thought It Was Friday

    Don't know why, but when I woke up this morning I thought it was Friday, and dressed like Jay Lake in honor of his birthday. Hawaiian shirt,…

  • Memorial Day, Patriotism, And All That

    I am not patriotic. I will cheer when my country does the right thing, and jeer when my country does wrong. On Memorial Day I am not posting any…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded