Nghi Van & Hong Hanh

From a technical standpoint, Nghi Van is better than most of her peers (young pop singers). Her breath control is nearly flawless, and her bittersweet voice is distinctive enough to stand apart. In Nghi Van Vol.3, her cordial deliveries are compelling on songs with sweet and light-touched emotions, such as Bao Truong’s “Sao Doi Ngoi,” Viet Anh’s “Nhung Con Duong Vang Anh,” and Tran Tien’s “Em Van Nhu Ngay Xua.” On Tuong Van’s “Dem Lao Sao,” Nghi Van and Tuan Hung give the romantic ballad a delicious duet. Their strident quality works marvelously well together. Oh the flip side, she is not expressive enough to make a personal statement like the soulful Ngoc Khue or the sultry Khanh Linh. On Quoc Bao’s “Dem Hoa,” the bossa-nova piano solo is more riveting than her vocal performance. Even though there is room for improvement, the album is still outstanding. Maybe she just needs more drama (not the kind of Nguyen Hong Nhung’s drama though) to reach deeper into the music.

In contrast to Nghi Van, Hong Hanh articulates her sentiment quite well on her latest album, Canh Nau Trong Dem. She refreshes Nguyen Anh 9’s composition, “Mua Thu Canh Nau,” with a heartfelt delivery over the blues-inflected groove. She also revives Trong Kien’s “Got Chan Phieu Du” with a Latin-jazz rendition. With flows reminiscent of My Le, Hong Hanh gives romantic ballads, including Quoc An’s “Vang Trang Ky Niem,” Minh Khang’s “Danh Roi Tinh Yeu” and “Dong Song Khong Troi,” some sweet sensations. In fact, the album is perfect for the young and in-love (or out-of-love) listeners, despite a few banal tunes were included.