Into Paradise

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If you think you've never heard this classical Norwegian singer, dig into your CD collection and pull out the Titanic soundtrack. Alongside the Oscar-winning Celine Dion tune everyone remembers are tracks and tracks of Sissel's haunting, ethereal vocals illuminating the tragedy of the sinking liner. Over her varied 20-year career, she's sung for queens, princes, Winter Olympics, and Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies -- in addition to dates with Dion and Josh Groban, who in some ways could be considered her American male equivalent. While a brilliant singer of uncommon range and emotional depth, she may have a bit of trouble finding an easy niche because albums like Into Paradise are slightly all over the map. But that's not a bad thing for adventurous listeners who want to take the journey, which runs from Mozart to Bach, Puccini to (and you have to wait until track 12) ABBA ("Like an Angel Passing Through")! Then there are the Norse folk tales, which are obviously close to home. A lack of familiarity with some of the material, however, will help the listener focus on the purity of her voice. The one quality she possesses that some of her pop-classical counterparts don't is restraint, and the production is very focused on her voice rather than on booming production and powerhouse grooves (though she boasts punkers and rappers on her résumé). The collection was recorded in Norway with the internationally renowned Trondheim Soloists.

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