My Tam – The Color of My Life (Hoang Hon Thuc Giac)

Like a candy shop, My Tam’s Color of My Life is filled with sweet pops. Many young musicians transform their styles to rebirth themselves; My Tam does not have to. Her loyal fans love her just the way she is. Therefore, she spends time blowing her bubblegum instead of popping it. She not only pens some of her own songs, but also gets involve behind the boards, and feeds her idea to the album design.

My Tam is undoubtedly a young and smart entertainer. She knows who pay her bills (if there are such things in Viet Nam), and she knows just what they want from her. Taking clues from the unexpected success of her 2003’s Yesterday & Now, she recycles the scheme by throwing in a song from Trinh Cong Son, two translated popular ballads, a few club joints, and plenty of puppy loves. Although I am living in the States, I can hear teenage boys and girls in Viet Nam flirt with each other using her elementary rhymes, “Oh! First kiss. You make me so happy. You make me so crazy.” The entire lyrics of “Nu Hon Bat Ngo” (A Surprised Kiss) were written in Vietnamese except for that line. She did it on purpose to get the listeners hooked. Despite how exasperating I get every time I listen to that hook, I must admit that the beat is bouncy and the lyrics are catchy, and the song comes straight from her pen. My Tam also proves that she can write both fast and slow jams. She has composed a light lay back melody on “Nho…” (Remember…), and she sings with the calmness of her breath and sweetness of her voice.

My Tam’s own compositions only filled up a quarter of the album. The rest comes from today’s popular songwriters such as Le Quang, Vo Thien Thanh, and Tuong Van. My Tam has given her best shot, without breaking a sweat, to make these songs her standards. On Tuong Van’s “Roi Mai Thuc Giac” (And Tomorrow Wake Up), she knows how to tag her name to it by giving a polished performance. If she closes out the album at track ten, “Nhip Dap Dai Kho” (Foolish Heartbeat), the album would still have been completed. But she goes the extra miles to recover a few popular songs. Unfortunately, her version of the Japanese pop’s “Nguoi Yeu Dau Oi” (Oh, My Darling) is not as rejuvenating as it could have been. With Trinh’s “Em Hay Ngu Di” (Sleep Well Dear), nothing is reviving until the last part where she breaks free from Trinh’s style and injects her own. It’s not the best rendition I’ve ever heard, but it has bit of distinctiveness.

Popular albums work like batteries. They start off strong but get weakening over time. Although My Tam has crafted a tight record in both performance and arrangement, I don’t see myself coming back to Color of My Life over and over again like I do with Thanh Lam’s Nang Len (Sunrise). Then again, young listeners would not give Nang Len a chance.