On Nhung Nu Mam Moi…, Le Thu, an accomplished singer with an ageless voice, takes on Trinh Cong Son’s standards. Unlike the limit-pusher Thanh Lam who flips Trinh’s world upside-down, Le Thu sticks to the original script like white on rice.
As much as I love Le Thu’s strident vocals, gorgeous vibrato and slightly raucous timbre on “Ru Em,” “Cuoi Cung Cho Mot Tinh Yeu,” “Bon Mua Thay La” and “Dem Thay Ta La Thac Do,” I am simply fed up with another Trinh’s songbook. Although Nhung Nu Mam Moi… is far beyond Dam Vinh Hung’s Phoi Pha and Phuong Thanh’s Thuong Mot Nguoi, I still feel a need for some sort of innovative breakthrough. Maybe Thanh Lam and Le Minh Son had set a new expectation when approaching Trinh’s work; therefore, the bar must be raised for the albums that come after theirs. But that’s just me, a demanding listener who always appreciate those musicians who are willing to take on the challenges. On the flip side, those “moldy figs” (jazz’s slang for old style) who dismissed Thanh Lam’s pathbreaking performances on Nay Em Co Nho and Ru Mai Ngan Nam will find Le Thu’s album to be highly enjoyable.
Nothing wrong with presenting the songs the way the composer intended them, especially with a voice like Le Thu. Her performances are flawless. In fact, they are too perfect. The life in Trinh’s lyrics is beautiful but not perfect. If his life were perfect, we wouldn’t have that many timeless songs. I am sure Le Thu’s life is beautiful as well—at least that’s how she sounded on the mic—but her perfectionism needs some accident to articulate Trinh’s lyrical beauties.