Phan Dinh Tung wants to take a step beyond his comfort zone, but at the same, he doesn’t want to abandon his fan base. So he drops two albums at once to accommodate both. Tung Ballad is a poppy record to fulfill his obligation while Tung Trinh is his take on Trinh Cong Son’s standards to reach more mature listeners.
Ballad is clearly not so hard for PDT to pull off. In fact, he delivers the pop tunes without breaking a sweat. His flows are effortless, but much more important than that, he knows the value of the hooks. Once you got the hook down, the rest of the song will follow. In Minh Khang’s “Nguoi Ra Di La Anh,” he kicks off with the hook that will stay in your head for at least a month. Once you heard it, you can’t help humming to it. That’s how ridiculously catchy the tracks on Ballad are and his voice—clear, powerful with sugarcoated tone—is perfect for them. “Anh Phai Lam Sao,” also penned by Minh Khang, is an instant hit. When he sings, “no one will love you more than he has,” you almost believe him.
Unlike Ballad, you could hear that PDT tries really hard on the Trinh record. The transition from Ballad to Trinh isn’t quite a smooth ride. The first half of the album is just passable. “Diem Xua” is where he started to sound relaxed and began to feel the lyrics. His version of “Ha Trang” is surprisingly convincing because he just let his soul float with the simple picking guitar. The jazzy-flavored “Toi Oi Dung Tuyet Vong” is well executed. The intro, which featured a female vocalist that sound like Hong Nhung, is novelty and the minimal piano tinkling in the arrangement gives the tune a bluesy touch.
Both albums showcase two different sides of PDT. If he were to combine the two together to catch all, it would have been all over the place like a buffet. With the two separate, each album sounds focused and crafted. So this is not a bad move at all.