On her fourth solo, Nuoc Mat Mua Thu, produced by Asia Entertainment, Ngoc Ha brings back the nostalgic vibes. What makes her covers of the classic tunes sound so damn fresh are the youthfulness in her performance and authoritativeness in her voice. With such passionate power, she makes me wonder how tones like that could come from petite a physique. I guess it is true that good things do come in small packages.
On the title track, “Nuoc Mat Mua Thu,” Ngoc Ha proves once again that she is one of the best female vocalists in her generation when it comes to covering Pham Duy’s compositions. With brilliant use of vibrato, Ngoc Ha pours her tearful soul out like autumn rain. Her emotional transformation could easily place next to Le Thu’s rendition. Pay particular attention to the way she expresses “troi oi,” and you’ll know what I mean.
Beside her voice, Ngoc Ha’s other strength is the wide range in her repertoire. Soaring like songbird on Pho Duc Phuong’s “Ho Tren Nui,” she demonstrates her skills for handling traditional folks. With an astonishing breath control and a sleek maneuverability around ballroom beats, she rocks the dance floor with Khanh Bang’s “Ngay Ve Que Cu” in paso-double style. Backing up by an orchestra, she gives Pham Duy’s “Kiep Nao Co Yeu Nhau,” a striking semi-classical recital.
Weakest track on the album is Van Phung’s “Gia Tu Dem Mua.” The imperfection is more on the arrangement than Ngoc Ha’s delivery. The cha-cha groove is jerky and weirdly mixed with the acoustic guitar riffs. Still, Ngoc Ha’s vocals and Asia’s productions are a wonderful coil to one another. What I want to hear next from Ngoc Ha is a Pham Duy’s album with the collaboration of Duc Tuan. Imagine that!