Back in September 2006 when Hoa Tran sent me a couple of his demo tracks, he had not found a voice of his own even though his vocals had potential. With his debut De Danh, he shows tremendous improvement in such a short period of time.
On the opener “Loi Ru Cho Con,” Ha Tran kicks off a folksy lullaby like a mother helping her kid walking on the road to music. Hoa Tran obviously spent a lot of time with his musical mother. No shame in that; many of you do too. Although her influence is apparent in his flow, delivery and phrasing, he has carved out a niche for himself by leaning toward femininity (not as much as Cindy Thai Tai). His gender-undistinguished vocals didn’t impress me at first, but they started to sink in after a few listens. He floats like a nightingale with a broken wing on the nocturnal “Doc Thoai” and scats like a horn on the funk-jazz “Bai Hat Cua Dong Song.”
With snoozing tracks like “Em O Dau,” “Tro Ve” and worst of all “You and I,” De Danh is not a strong album, but it is much more refreshing than those commercial works put out by big productions. At least Hoa Tran is willing to move beyond the mundane recycling of old tunes and willing to invest in new beats. Furthermore, he doesn’t sing to make a living, yet he makes way more innovative moves than most of the current singers who can’t seem to drag their lazy behinds out of their comfort zone. I suppose when music is your passion and not your income, you tend to push yourself more.