Don Ho is back. Wait, he has never left the building. My man just takes a long time to drop his album. He’s the do-it-yourself type of guy who wants to be involved in every step of the production. The hard part is that he has to do all the work from CD design to studio recording to distribution. The rewarding part is the creative freedom. And the best part is that he knows what it takes to put out an outstanding album.
With the newest release of Vi Do La Em, Don Ho proves, once again, to be the exceptional singer of his generation. By focusing only on Dieu Huong’s ballads, he learns how her lyrics should be interpreted, as well as how to transform her songs into his personal statement. Whether he sings about “Giong Le Kho,” begs his partner to stay in “O Lai Ta Di,” drenches his soul into “Khac Khoai,” reflects to love in “Chi Co Mot Thoi,” or expresses his career in “Lang Nhin Ta Thoi,” he hits their emotional forces dead on, as if his life is connected to the words. And his candor is seductive.
Ironically, the title track is one out of the two weakest performances on the album. Not because he couldn’t sing it well, but the tune has been covered way too many times, and he has tried way too hard to makes it stands out. The remaining pathetic track is “Vu Tru Cua Anh.” Dieu Huong’s space-love analogies don’t quite work. The upbeat production is banal, and Don’s Spanish counting isn’t cute either.
Despite the minor misses, Vi Do La Em marks one of Don Ho’s finest works up to date. Although his dark, slightly gruff voice is captivating, what heighten his flow and delivery are the soulful, lustful musical productions. With both vocal artistry and musical wizardry weaving into one, Dieu Huong’s compositions have been given a fresh and sensuous vibe.