Nguyen Khang – Cung La Tram Nam & Coi Mua

I saw great potential in Nguyen Khang when I first spotted him on various Asia and Van Son videos. His thicken texture timbres caught my attention. While I was impressed by his mature handling of Trinh’s materials on 10 Tuyet Khuc Trinh Cong Son, I was disappointed with the boxset Trai Tim Ben Le, where he performed mostly radio-friendly and Chinese-translated songs. I didn’t hold anything against him since the boxset released under Bien Tinh Music. I assumed that he did not have much control over the production as a young artist who tried to break into the industry. Beside, the credit on the back of the boxset stated that Hoang Ha Thu was responsible for the selection of the songs. Now that he got his foot in the door, made a strong stand for himself in the Vietnamese entertainment industry, and even launched his own record label, is he successful in crafting his own works?

Cung La Tram Nam is his debut album under Nguyen Khang Production. Although it is a decent work, not every song fits his vocals. Only Anh Tai’s “Tinh Mai Ngu Ngo” and Phu Quang’s “Ha Noi Ngay Tro Ve” allow his powerful voice to excel. The invigorating musical arrangement combines with his warm tones provide “Bien Can” a refreshing flavor.

Let’s skip all the translated songs but I would like to briefly mention, “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,” a track that could have been a fantastic experiment if he performs solo. Tuan Dung and Nguyen Khuong (his brother?) could not hold up to his authoritative vocals, which ends up ruined the track. Otherwise, the way he deepened his voice produced an enticing tune. The thick, heavy, and rich qualities make up for his imperfect English. Unfortunately, when his voice doesn’t reach its peak, he sounds dull even with the duet with Diem Lien on Quoc Vuong’s “Hay Noi Voi Em.”

His follow up album, Coi Mua, is much improved from the previous. He is wiser on choosing tracks that he could fully express. With the help from Duy Cuong, Nguyen Khang reaches deep into the desperation of Trinh Cong Son’s “Toi Oi, Dung Tuyet Vong.” He flows gorgeously into the title track “Coi Mua” written by Le Tran Hoang. Furthermore, Cat Tien’s sexiness reading and Cadillac’s soulful background vocals enhances the experience significantly. He rises and falls with full of passion on Nguyen Anh 9’s “Co Don.” Elsewhere, his deliveries are unblemished on Vinh Phuoc’s “Le Tinh Roi,” Vu Tuan Duc’s “Toi Khong Con Yeu Em,” Pham Duy’s “Duong Em Di,” and of course Trinh Cong Son’s “Tuoi Da Buon.”

While Dong Son gives a beautiful composition on Duc Huy’s “Nhu Da Dau Yeu,” Nguyen Khang could not bypassed Don Ho’s performance. Though his version is not bad, Don Ho injects so much soul into the work that it is hard for other singers to even come close to. “Lac Mat Mua Xuan” (a translated song by Lu Lien) is overrated. Too many singers covered it including Dam Vinh Hung. Though I must give credit to Duc Trinh for the nice beats.

Just from listening to these two albums, Nguyen Khang has definitely progressed himself. Within a short period, he has paved his own path for his singing career. Though he has made substantial accomplishments, there are still plenty of rooms for advancement. Let’s hope that he will continue to expand his artistic vision and push himself to a higher ground.