Hayley Westenra

Hushabye

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New Zealand-born vocalist Hayley Westenra has become extremely popular on the strength of her direct and uncomplicated crossover albums, and in many cases, new listeners trying her CDs know immediately what the theme is by seeing only the title. In the case of Hushabye, her 2013 release on Decca, the subject is the lullaby, both as it has appeared in classical music and in traditional folk and popular song. Of course, Brahms' Lullaby is the most famous example of the former, and "Twinkle Twinkle" is the most universally known of the latter. In between, there is a fairly wide variety of styles, ranging from Gus Kahn's jazz standard, "Dream a Little Dream," to T. Bone Burnett's a cappella arrangement of "Go to Sleep" (all parts sung by Westenra), though the dominant tone of the program is one of sweet harmonizations and pretty instrumentals, all at the service of Westenra's quiet singing. Of special note is Paul Mealor's song, "Sleep On," which is a tribute to the birth of the royal baby, Prince George. Because listeners will know immediately if they need a collection of light and unpretentious music for sleepy children, this pleasant disc will find the appropriate audience with little difficulty.

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