Y Phuong – Tra No Tinh Xa

On her debut Tra No Tinh Xa, Y Phuong whose potential in reinvigorating ballads is promising has bestowed her soul into the wrong tracks. Her big, dense, and seductive voice is a huge waste on the sugary pop tunes. By the time you hit third spin, the album struggles to retain your attention. All the songs are familiar, yet both the vocals and productions did not succeed in reviving them. Y Phuong stays too faithful to the originals instead of treating them like boyfriends. Screaming at them or cheating on them whenever she wants to.

Even though her song choices don’t impress me, especially with the remaking of Khuc Lan’s translated “Ngan Nam Van Doi” and “Hoi Nguoi Tinh,” her soulful voice doesn’t fail me either. The album is listenable, but nowhere near the groundbreaking level. Her decision to re-record the title track by herself is a wise one; however, she should have kept the bluesy flavor and stripped away the rock instead.

Out of all the three male guests, Don Ho complements her voice best on Chuong Duc’s “Con Toi Voi Toi,” even though his delivery is over-refined, which sounds so damn unnatural. Worst is club-friendly “Mai Ben Nhau” from Pham Khai Tuan with Chosen contributing the rap verse. La Bouche is long gone, baby. Unlike what we have heard on the opening of Asia’s Bon Mua, Nguyen Khang’s gruff voice, strangely, isn’t an appealing match or Quoc Vuong’s “Nguoi Da Voi Xa” isn’t the right song for their duet.

Not sure what was on her mind, but if she wanted to cover old songs, might as well go for pre-war ballads instead of these post- popular hits. At least the pre-war songs would last longer than these bubblegum pops. Y Phuong needs to up her game, throw in some jazz and blues, and take bold steps in hitting different angles of a tune so that what she has been working so hard on won’t be shattered.