When Le Hieu was featured on Do Bao’s Canh Cung, he was still in development. His performance on title track was the weakest among the ladies, which included Tran Thu Ha, Khanh Linh, Ngoc Anh, and Ho Quynh Huong. Although his voice sounds mature for his age, I have not yet found its aesthetic and uniqueness. Yet, I keep hearing his name and his potentials. So let’s find out if he has persuaded me on his newest release, Vol.3.
The album opens with Duong Duc Hien’s “Ngay Qua Lang Le,” a sugary pop tune with a catchy chorus. But what keeps us coming back is the sensuous saxophone that works as a foil to Le Hieu’s saccharine vocals. Then guest-star Le Quyen joins in on Trinh Nam Son’s “Con Duong Mau Xanh.” When given the right material, she can soar with her gravel pit of a voice. Even though he has given his best shot, she still manages to dominate the performance with her indelible and powerful delivery. She makes me wish her counterpart were Trinh Nam Son (who could articulate the song better than the writer himself?), and not Le Hieu. I actually heard Trinh Nam Son performed his song years ago on the first Asia video, and I could not find a match until now.
Nevertheless, the duet between Le Hieu and Le Quyen is the highlight of the album because the rest is filled with pop-rock tedium (Van Tuan Anh’s “Trai Tim That Tha”), bland r & b-inflected groove (Ho Hoai Anh’s “Con Mua Mua Dong”), and plenty of Chinese’s syrupy harmonies (Duong Duc Hien’s “Qua Roi Ngay Thang Ben Nhau” and “Mot Lan Gap Em”). Even with the assist of Thanh Lam, Le Hieu could not revivify Duc Huy’s “Nhu Da Dau Yeu.” The two voices don’t seem to connect or complement one another. I have never heard Thanh Lam sounded so rough and raw before—as if she was singing into a bad mic. On Bui Anh Dung’s “Tinh Yeu,” the bossa-nova rhythm is groovy and the piano work is exquisite, but his performance is stilted, even when he switches up his flow imitating Tung Duong’s style on the third chorus.
No, I am still not convinced. His phrasings have not improved, and I can hear his breath. I have not listened to Le Hieu’s Vol.1 and 2 yet; therefore, I don’t know what type of audiences he had targeted. As for Vol.3, he wants to kill two birds with one stone, similar to what Dam Vinh Hung has been doing with his albums, and we all know where Mr. Dam is at now. Let’s wait and see if Le Hieu is heading into the same direction.