On the desirable Da Khuc Nguyen Dinh Phung, Tuan Ngoc and Thai Hien calm our minds with their vocals and Duy Cuong sooths our souls with his musical arrangements even though the nocturne music takes us a while to get into. Unfortunately, their latest efforts on Ao Mong (Romantic Ballads of Nguyen Dinh Phung) are not too successful. The singings are beyond relax and the arrangements are above quiet. I gave the album plenty of time (twice as much as the previous one) to grow on me, but nothing happens. I still am unable to feel the vibe.
On the first two tracks (“Nhu Tinh Mai Tinh Khoi” and “Mai Em Ve Da Lat”), Tuan Ngoc holds on to the notes too long. He stresses the words too much to match up with the classical chords. The result is unanimated and tedious. The CD-closer “Thien Than Toc Trang Canh Mau Xanh” picks up the tempo a tiny bit with the waltz tune. He does not sound as stretchy, but the music still does not come to life.
Thai Hien is equally tiresome. Her clear but slow and slightly breathy delivery on “Dan Voi Gio Mua” and “Coi Troi Dat La” is more depressing than enchanting. Duy Cuong’s arrangements do not help much. The beats are either too subtle or are not presence at all. For instance, on “Tram Nhanh Song Chia,” I wish he turned up the drums just a notch.
The poems featured on Ao Mong are beautiful, but the drawback is the way Nguyen Dinh Phung transports them into music. The melodies are too passive and subdued. Listeners who are acquainted with classical music might find the album enjoyable. As for me, I am more of a jazz and hip-hop head.