My heart is pumping as I post this. Please be gentle with me.
*sorry for any typos made, this is a long post*
Okay, this review may upset some people, indeed, I may get angry PMs from Roger stating that 'HAYLEY READS THESE BOARDS' and kick me off the forum forever. But I hope you will all be forgiving, and take consolation into the fact that criticism is vital to anyone's growth, not just as an artist, but also as a fan. Reading others critiques only enhances your own tastes and enthusiams into an artist. With this in mind, I only want you to read another point of view, which is so radically different from all of yours. I think, perhaps, that it's because I have been waiting for Hayley to do something DIFFERENT, whilst everyone else (and quite rightly so) enjoys what she does already. I have listened to the album very carefully, and heard it through probably more than 10 times, and I listened to each song twice, very loud through ear phones, so I could hear Hayley and other details very clearly, so I think this opinion is set and stone and I'll probably never play this album again. But here is my review, that will explain why this is probably the last album I will ever buy of Hayley's. First of all, I'm going to what I think of each track, I will then give an overall opinion of the album as a whole (overall arrangements, Hayley's performance, tracklisting etc.)
Let Me Lie: Don't throw stones at me, but I think it would be better as an instrumental. As a composition, it reminds me of Miriam Stockley's 'Perfect Day' which is haunting like this one. Whilst Hayley's vocals excel here (wonderful use of vibrato and strength) I feel it detracts from what could have been a stunning instrumental. The lyrics are thoughtful (like a stream of consciousness) but are repetitive. I soon tire with this song.
La Notte Silenzio: Hayley's favourite song... well, it's sweet, but it sounds like I have heard it before. I do like Humphrey Berney who brings some power into the song and the italian lyrics (a nod to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, perhaps). It's probably one of the better songs on the album, but it still doesn't really stand out.
Santa Lucia: Don't like it at all, the mandolin is excrutiating! Hayley's vocals are top notch but if I listen to this terrible production and arrangement one more time in order to pay attention to Hayley, my head might explode.
Shenandoah: By the time one gets to the track, one realises just how much Hayley's voice has grown. She's putting a lot more power into her vocals this time round. Love the high notes mid song. The song is a tad on the boring side though.
Whispering Hope: Sounds like a hymn or a Christmas carol. It's a filler, boring, irritating. Kinda like what 'Hine E Hine' does (or doesn't do) for Pure.
Summer Rain: AH! The song I have been waiting for Hayley to do since Pure. This song is the only stand out song from the album. I love the Enya-esque arrangement. Whilst Hayley's vocals are no more exciting than on other tracks, the orchestration is fantastic. The strings are beautiful, and the upbeatness is something Hayley should do a lot more of.
Danny Boy: *groan* Probably Hayley's best vocal performance to date (apart from 'Dark Waltz'), but for me, it still doesn't justify this song to even exist.
One Fine Day: This is no where near as good as the original operatic interpretation, but I appreciate Hayley throwing a different light on it. This big aria has been toned down to a folksy arrangement with a folksy vocal. That's fine I guess, but I am spoiled with the original, and thus, this song does nothing fo rme but make me want to reach out to play the Izzy interpretation (my favourite). And if I want a different, yet interesting interpretation of this song, I'll grab 'It's a Beautiful Day' by Sarah Brightman. I'm so sorry, I was really looking forward to this, as it's my favourite aria of all time, but it just sounds like a bland echo.
The Heart Worships: What a bland, bland, bland song. I have tried to listen to it seven times, and each time it just washes over me. I guess I can't really comment on this one, as it is hard work for me to concentrate on.
E Pari Ra: Feel like giving up at this point.
Sonny: That's better. Everything about this song is beautiful. Hayley's performance on the piano is one of sheer perfection. The simple arrangement partnering with Hayley's sweet vocals results in her most intimate song to date. It's touching, simple, and one that Hayley should perform at everyone concert from now until she dies. Period.
Summer Fly: Hayley's attempt at a faster paced song backfires. The fault is not with Hayley at all, but if you want to put a beat into a song, put a real one in. It's not that the song washes over, it catches your attention alright: 'At this song again? Better skip now'. Hayley's performance is also sedated as a result, or it's perhaps the faster tempo that puts a perspective on Hayley's vocals as a whole?
Melancholy Interlude: Cute. A bit bland.
Bist Du Bei Mir: I love Hayley's performance here, but there isn't much else going for this song. :/ Beautiful high notes, and lovely diction.
Abide With Me: I think by the time I reach this song, I am so tired on the album as a whole I just want to turn it off. However, I hang on for a little bit longer, and listen to the divine end of this song and hear Hayley, yet again, pushing power into the voice to make a dramatic end to what otherwise, was a bland album.
Shocking, you have made it to the end of the track reviews. Hopefully you are not twisting your face up with extreme hatred towards the screen from which you read from. Really, I only like two songs. Sonny, and Summer Rain.
I don't know where to start in my explanation as how disappointing this album is to me.
This album, is no different to Odyssey, and very similar to Pure, only bland. This is what gripes me. Where is the growth? Where is the change? Where are the risks? It's not good enough to stay within your safety zone, not for me at least. Do something different, do something different with your voice! Hayley's voice sounds exactly the same on a emotional level than it did four albums ago. Oh, it has grown technically, but it hasn't matured
. Every track sounds the same, because she sings in the exact same way, exact same tone, for every single song. The arrangement sounds the same on each song. Sorry Mr. Patrick, but move over and give someone else a go during the same album at least! DIVERSITY. All I can say, is that this album sounds like one song but with part a) part b) etc. Summer Rain is nice, but if I want to hear a song like that, I can turn elsewhere in my CD collection, because it's superior elsewhere. Which is the story for pretty much the whole genre that Hayley is singing in. Easy Listening. But I will elaborate on this a bit further down.
I gave Pure five stars, Odyssey three stars, and I give this one two. Oh, believe me, there is no one more upset than I! I have been following Hayley's career since 2002 (yes, 2002!) Despite living in England, I had hold of her first two albums from my good friend Andy (you may remember his website, I have forgotten what it's called now...) I didn't like her first two albums to be honest, but I knew I liked the voice, and watched her as I was interested in what she was going to do next. She released Pure, and that confirmed my love for her. I have gone to see her live 5 times since, bought her DVDs, read her autobiography (a bit bland, but still, I read it) and joined three forums bearing her name. I loved her. From her beautiful voice, to her charming, genuine nature.
That hasn't changed. I still admire her as a person. But it's the end of the road as an artist for me. I'm fed up with the same thing being churned over and over again. She has taken no steps from where she started musically (I stress, that isn't the case vocally!) I have so many artists in my library (I have over 500 CDs which I listen to consistently), of so many different genres, different voices etc, but Hayley's is similar to a few in my collection. Sharon Den Adel and Sissel for example. Let's take Sharon Den Adel as an example, as her voice is remarkably like Hayley's. Sarah Den Adel is very bad at injecting emotion into a song, just like Hayley, because they share the same tone, and so it's difficult to deviate the sounds to create emotion, but Sharon Den Adel is exciting. It may be unfair, to compare such a two, since Sharon is a lot older, and hey, let's be honest, her genre is metal, not Easy Listening, but Sharons ballads are never boring, because there is a healthy balance, and the arrangement is plentiful and full of different sounds (I'd suggest 'Our Farewell' or 'Bittersweet', otherwise, go here (www.myspace.com/withintemptation
) and listen to the song 'Memories'. I'm not suggesting Hayley dye her hair black and join a metal band, but I am suggesting that she should perhaps do more with her voice than applying it to the same arrangement and the same songs over and over. Experiment, try something new. What's the point of either Odyssey or Treasure, when she has already done the best of this type with Pure? It's time to move on. I can't believe we are on the fifth album, and it's still the same. It defies belief really. She's not the worst offender (Katherine Jenkins) but that doesn't make the fact of the matter for me any better.
Everything I have said above is my opinion on the matter. I am not at all suggesting, that in general, that this is what she SHOULD do when she isn't interested to do so and neither are her fans (which judging from the reception of this album so far on this board, you certainly don't seem interested). But I will sail in this boat alone, I alone will be tired of this album, and this sound, and I alone will find Hayley's voice irritating, because of they way it has been tirelessly applied.
I would like to stress, that I still like Hayley, and would still go and see her live if she came near by (I do love her live), and I'm an avid fan of her film Pure. I hope from here on I will not be looked upon as if I don't belong here, and that you will still accept me. And hopefully I won't be kicked out, or be protested against in an ill manner. At the end of the day, we all look for different things in artists, and it just so happens, the thing I'm looking for from Hayley hasn't arisen, but it sure has for everyone else, and I am pleased for you, and totally respect your past enjoyment of Hayley, your enjoyment of this album, and her future albums and wonderful character.
I'm scared right now. But maybe I need not be, for who on earth is going to read the whole essay I have written above?!Edit: I made the link to Within Temptation's MySpace clickable.