Unlike her previous release, which focused on Ngo Thuy Mien’s compositions, Khanh Ha’s new CD, Tu Muon Kiep Truoc, is all over the place. While the wide musical range—from pop to folk to jazz to pre-war to romantic ballad—added a mixture of colors, the overall experience is not so smooth. Even though her voice is excellent in almost all the tracks, the album doesn’t feel coherent, especially with four arrangers with different styles.
Furthermore, too many Paris By Night‘s hits (Quoc Dung’s “Chi La Mua Thu Roi,” Duc Tri’s “Nang Co Mua Xuan,” and Y Van’s “Long Me”) are integrated into the album. They are fantastic tunes, but I would like to see new materials or even new arrangements on a CD. I don’t mind the covering of “Bai Ngoi Ca Tinh Yeu” (A French ballad translated by Pham Duy) because of the fresh bossa nova-flavor. The beat is intoxicating and she knows how to bend and glide her vocals around the sensational rhythm. Same with Nguyen Anh 9’s “Hanh Phuc,” her vocals soar like a songbird over the semi-classical piano work. On the flip side, the silky sax and the programmed drumbeat bring down her rendition of Lam Phuong’s “Saigon Oi Vinh Biet.” Again her voice is exceptional in delivering Nguyen Hien’s “Ngan Nam May Bay,” but the rock-pop riff isn’t doing it for me.
What turns me off is that Tu Muon Kiep Truoc is more like a Thuy Nga than a Khanh Ha production. It feels more like a commercialized product than an independent work with too many crowd teasers and ear-candy productions. I respect the mother-dedicated “Long Me,” and it was fine to show on screen, but why put it on a new album? Hopefully, that’s not the selling point.