Thanh Lam – May Trang Bay Ve

Beside Ru Doi Di Nhe, Tu Su, Ru Mai Ngan Nam, and the most recent Nang Len, the 2001 released May Trang Bay Ve is another groundbreaking work from the Vietnamese diva Thanh Lam who is a formidable musician with a strong and profound voice. Although she has never been a gentle singer (at least in my mind), this record featured a handful of soothing tracks that requires Lam to melt stylistically. Nonetheless, those who love her powerful voice can reassured that they are not left out.

When Duong Thu contemporary folk melodies meet Quoc Trung’s new world grooves, and bridge the two together by Thanh Lam’s passionate vocals, the result is a barrier-tearing sound that can be found on the title track “May Trang Bay Ve,” as well as “Loi Toi Ru,” “Danh Thuc Tam Xuan,” and “Bay Vao Ngay Xanh.” Aside from Duong Thu’s compositions, Pho Duoc Phuong’s “Ho Tren Nui” is another rejuvenating folk and rock mashup. On these five songs, she has exerted an enchantment over her listeners by virtue of the expressive emotional range, volume, and intensity of her singing.

On this album, she covers eight of Duong Thu’s compositions. The lead-off track “Cam Tay Mua He” is a rare tune sported by Trung’s gorgeous mid-tempo arrangement in which she relaxes into the mellow rhythm, allowing it to calm her. The voice sampling (reminds me of Enigma) adds a sense of mysterious into the piece. Even though “Do Tinh” has a faster drumbeat, her vocals still stay cool and drive the arrangements. Beside her serene delivery, The Dan’s two-string fiddle (dan nhi) performance adds an exquisite aroma of traditional folk to the fresh vibe.

Accompanied by Tran Manh Tuan’s sensual soprano saxophone and backed up the choir of Nhac Vien Ha Noi, Lam’s authoritative, prosperous, and perfect placed timbre comes to live on “Hy Vong” (Hope), the inspiring lyric written by Duong Thu and mesmerizing music composed by Niels Lan Doky. The track is almost perfect except for the flaw in the production where the volume level drops noticeably right after the bridge. Also joining by Nhac Vien Ha Noi choir, “Goi Anh” is a delightful duet with the distinguished musician Trung Kien who voice is a phenomenon; together they provide listeners an opera experience.

Bao Tran’s “Hoa Co Mua Xua” is the cutest track on the album because of the kids from PTTN Viet Nam. They have done a spectacular job backing up Lam and she blends in with them smoothly. She sounds young next to them, and together they come off full of live on top of Trung’s fresh keyboard chord. Not only Trung deserves his praises for the wonderful sounds he produced on the album, his own composition “Tre Xanh Ru” is no less irresistible.

May Trang Bay Ve showcases a peerless vocal from Thanh Lam matches by Dung Thu’s writing skills and Quoc Trung’s arranging techniques at their best. Once again, Lam delivers another solid album and pushes the limit to elevate her stature. While many pop singers come and gone, Lam remains on top because of her timeless work.

Bonjour Vietnam