Cam Van – Xin Cho Toi

“Another Trinh Cong Son’s album?” was my first thought when I picked up Cam Van’s Xin Cho Toi. I glanced at the back cover, half of the tracks are Trinh’s standards, including “Tinh Nho,” “Ha Trang,” “Ru Doi Di Nhe,” and “Rung Xua Da Khep,” which have been covered countless times by other singers. I copped the album anyway since I heard so much about Cam Van but hardly pay attention to her work. This album may be a good start.

As soon as the album kicks off with “Tinh Nho,” Cam Van’s superb voice grabs me. Her dynamic delivery combines with her powerful vocals give shape and texture to Trinh’s music. She has a unique approach to Trinh’s work and the arranger (Bao Phuc) recognizes it; therefore, he allows her voice to drive the musical arrangements. While she easily reaches deep into Trinh’s lyrics on “Hanh Huong Tren Doi Cao,” the sax follows right behind her to provide the listeners a journey on the high plateau. Likewise, the instruments on “Phuc Am Buon” are subtle enough to let her vocals take charge. As a result, the performance shows the strength of Trinh’s words through her vocals and the aesthetic details through the musical composition.

On the title track “Xin Cho Toi,” Cam Van delivers the melancholy of Trinh’s expression while the arrangements added a sense of despondency to the work. Placing this title track at the end of the album is a clever technique. The energy makes me yearning for more. The whole album has that slow but vibrant sound except “Ta Da Thay Gi Trong Dem Nay,” which is a mid-tempo song. The vocals and the lyrics are listenable, but the marching band tune turns me off.

Xin Cho Toi is a carefully crafted album with remarkable vocal performance and skillful orchestration. It is an album not to be missed by those who love Trinh’s music. It won’t replace Khanh Ly’s records or Hong Nhung’s album, but it gives a different experience to the incredible work of Trinh Cong Son through Cam Van’s distinctive interpretation.