Ngoc Anh – 69’59”

Phu Quang is a renowned songwriter who treasures every second of his life. 69’59”—the title of his latest work (Phu Quang Vol.11)—signifies the pulses of his heart and the lifespan of his songbook as he welcomes listeners into his “Quan Thoi Gian” (Stall of Time) performed by the young singer Ngoc Anh. Their collaboration is a fruitful one because she brings beautiful drama to his simple, lyrical compositions with her gravel pit of a voice.

Ngoc Anh has the right chops for the bossa-nova “Lang Dang Chieu Dong Ha Noi.” She knows how to float her dirt-flecked timbre around the Latin-inflected groove and the exotic keyboard licks. And she pours when she rains. Ngoc Anh streams her heart out on the acoustic guitar in “Khuc Mua Thu” and drowns her emotion in the sentimental “Truoc Mo Cha.” With “Chieu Phu Tay Ho,” she surprises the listeners with her handling of traditional folk. Her overcooked quality gives the piece a soul-soothing touch.

69’59” is a savory album because Phu Quang’s compositions are easy to listen and his lyrics are straightforward but never comes across as mundane. The producers—Thanh Phuong, Do Bao, Vinh Tam, and Viet Anh—also earned their proper for the effervescent arrangements. As much as I admire Ngoc Anh’s dark, warm sensuousness, I am still not contented with her aspirate delivery. Although she has reached deep into the music with her soulful interpretation, she needs to silence her breathing to complete her perfectionism.