Not only Mr. Dam refuses to go away, but he also returns with a double album. Ideally, he would like to offer two separate styles, one on each disc, but they ended up sounding the same. No matter how hard he tries, he still can’t get rid of his “sen”-ness.
On the first disc, he turns every romantic ballad into a doleful hymn. Even Ngo Thuy Mien’s “Niem Khuc Cuoi,” which could be a wedding’s first dance, he transforms it into a funeral ode with his over-sentimental delivery. His rendition of Tu Cong Phung’s “Mat Le Cho Nguoi” is more pejorative than Che Linh doing Tuan Ngoc in “Rieng Mot Goc Troi.” Worst is the title track in which he sounds as if he’s suffering from tuberculosis. His tone is fucked up badly.
The second disc, however, is where Mr. Dam hits home. The way he caramelizes Ngan Giang’s “Em Ve Keo Troi Mua” you could make a clay pot fish (ca kho to) with it. All you need is a bowl of room-temperature rice and a cucumber to complete a country-style meal. To Thanh Tung’s “Gia Tu” is also a perfect fit for his maudlin gloss, and I am not even trying to deny the fact that I don’t dislike this campy shit. Just give me a bowl of “bun mam” to complement it.
Even though Mr. Dam is far far away from being the king of “sen” (Che Linh is still holding on to the title), everything he touches gets depressingly contagious. Like AIDS, once you’re caught with the “sen” virus, you’re infected for life. Mr. Dam is incurable anyway.