The dynamic-duo Thanh Lam and Le Minh Son are back rousing up the heat with Em & Dem, their forth studio collaboration effort. Musically, these two are a match made in heaven. One is a soul-stirring crooner; the other is a soul-mixing producer. Together they generate not just hits but soulful albums after albums. Em & Dem is no exception. They continue stretching the limits, experimenting with new sounds, and creating original music.
The album featured eight tracks written and composed by Le Minh Son, a brilliant musician who is obsessed with fusion. The good thing is that he blends the genres together without a glitch. The best illustration is “Hat Mot Ngay Moi.” The piece starts off with an electric funk guitar intro, then glides into pop-rock rhythm section. Thanh Lam’s voice enters with a playful half-singing and half-reading folk style. The song eventually builds into a hard-rock chorus where her vocals become dense and solid, but the trumpet, which gives the break a jazz flavor, calms things down with a gorgeous, riveting solo.
No matter what kind of arrangements Le Minh Son comes up with, Thanh Lam could maneuver her way into the songs naturally with her flexible vocal range. Whether the production is a mash-up of classic, pop, r & b, and hip-hop (“Ngay Anh”) or the r & b’s trunk-rattling basskick builds into rock riff (“Em & Dem”) or the soothing semi-classic piano (“Nhin Em De Thay”), she matches them with her virtuous flow, and at the same time pours her soul into the lyrics. Even when the beats aren’t stimulating—like the mid-tempo pop on “Ngay Em Ra Doi” and the pop-rock “Toc Thoi Tay Ho”—her deliveries are still exhilarating. It has to be the flow and the attention to the words. On “Nguoi Dan Ba,” she then gives an impressive performance with her whispery timbre roaring over the breathtaking classical orchestration.
“Suong Giang Cau Hat” closes out the album with yet another flavorful fusion. This time Le Minh Son incorporates a marvelous Latin groove into the rhythm section, and his strumming guitar solo is like Santana was in the house. The beat is energetic, but Thanh Lam knows how to wrap her voice around it. Compare to Nang Len, this album is much easier to listen. The tunes are softer and mellower, which are attractive to younger crowds, but might disappoint those who expected the belter signature from Thanh Lam and jazz-folk standards from Le Minh Son. Nevertheless, Em & Dem still maintains, if not escalates, her queen-of-pop stature.