Poor Sissel Kyrkjebo. Ever since warbling her way through James Cameron’s water-logged epic
Titanic in 1997, she’s been pegged as a bargain-basement Enya. Both vocalists certainly bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, but whereas the Irish Enya seems content with being so much ethereal sonic wallpaper, the Norwegian Sissel seems determined to break out of her stereotypical shell and forge some sort of pop career. That’s purely conjecture, mind you, as one wouldn’t know that she has those aspirations by simply listening to the first two tracks of Into Paradise; “Dusk (Velkomne Med Aera)” and “Bachianas Brasileiras” feel more like warm-up exercises than songs proper, though they certainly are lovely in a refined, chamber music sort of way. Technically, Sissel’s soaring soprano impresses in a way Enya’s doesn’t—full of warmth, lilt, and vigor, songs like “Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme” and the title track not only betray the similarities with her Emerald Isle doppelganger, but underscore the differences. Enya’s work often conjures vivid images of chilled landscapes while Sissel’s catalog (both here and on the 2004 stateside non-starter My Heart) fairly envelopes the listener in a soothing blanket of heavenly vocalizations. A classical crossover album largely fueled by traditional and choral pieces, Into Paradise will appeal to those looking for an aural escape and aficionados of polished, proficient vocal performance.