I received Dai Duong’s Cung Chim Troi, a Trinh Cong Son’s songbook, as a gift coincidently on my 29th birthday. I am not big on birthday celebration, but it does make me contemplate on what have I done up to this point in my life—shamefully nothing much. On his intro, Dai Duong also reflects on what he has accomplished so far in thirty years of his life. Strangely, he shares my sentiment and I can relate to what he was expressing. I too feel no regrets for the path I had taken.
After such an intimate introduction, Dai Duong pours his heart out on “Cho Mot Nguoi Nam Xuong” accompanied by a simple strumming guitar. He sounds best when he strips down Trinh’s compositions to their emotional chord so that he could give his own interpretation of Trinh’s lyrics with his big old voice. Even when listening to Khanh Ly’s unmatchable recording of “Mua Hong” before 1975 and Tran Thu Ha’s playful rendition, it is Dai Duong who reminds me that “Cuoc doi do co bau lau ma hung ho.”
I was hoping that he had kept it minimal throughout the album. His flow gets stilted on the bosa-nova “Roi Nhu Da Ngay Ngo.” On Duc Tri’s “Toi Tim Thay Toi” (bonus track), he doesn’t have the jazz maneuverability to swing his way around like what Ho Quynh Huong has accomplished. But as an album recorded for a special dedication, Cung Chim Troi is as personal as it gets.