Although the album cover of Thanh Lam-Trong Tan—the most anticipated collaboration of the year—is as impressive as necrophilia, the use of typography tries to hint you something. The white-and-red color and the intertwined type treatment—Red Cross’s style—serve as a warning that you could get a heart attack listening to this album. That’s how powerful the recordings are.
Don’t give me wrong. I love strong voices. Trong Tan has to be one of the most authoritative male vocalists in Viet Nam. In fact, his voice is overpowering. I am talking about the hair-raising, nerve-stinging, in-your-ear kind of power, baby. And Thanh Lam’s voice is no less strident. So what happens when these two amplified crooners consolidate? The outcomes can be experienced on Le Minh Son’s “Hat Cho Con Ngay Mua,” “Xa Xa,” and “Thoi Con Gai.” Just imagine two motorbikes’ mufflers competing for your ears or making out to the sound of a buzzsaw. Trong Tan’s excessive use of vibratos in “A I A” and “Mua” could make bubbles rise in your blood stream. And please Tan, spare me some soul from those opera shit.
Besides the newly written compositions from Le Minh Son, Thanh Lam recovered Thuan Yen’s “Em Toi” and Thanh Tung’s “Giot Nang Ben Them.” Even though Tran Manh Hung’s semi-classical orchestrations breeze new vibes to the aged tunes, Thanh Lam’s breathy deliveries and heavy flows don’t make them sound any better than what she had done before—just another approach of getting things off her silicon chest.
Thanh Lam-Trong Tan is no way a flopped album. Le Minh Son has done his best to weave these two voices together as well as fuse Vietnamese traditional music into western vibes. I just hope that they weren’t overwhelmingly loud. Maybe I am just getting old for rambunctious music, which explains why I still haven’t been able to appreciate the boisterous aesthetics of rock.