Duc Tuan – Tieng Hat Truong Chi

Tieng Hat Truong Chi continues Duc Tuan’s direction in concept album. He covers Van Cao’s tunes with the accompanying of Hoai Sa’s arrangements. Hoai Sa is a young, talented musician and he is one of the top-billing producers in Viet Nam. He is also passed for a jazz, semi-classical pianist; therefore, it is not a surprise that Duc Tuan enlisted him for this release.

Like his previous albums, Duc Tuan recorded Truong Chi with a set of standards: wise song selection and quality production. Sometimes a too-careful-too-perfect album returns a reverse effect. Truong Chi is indeed a perfect album, and its perfection robs its soul. In every track the arrangement has stripped down to its basic elements, which diminishes the depth and the textures of the work. The title track, “Truong Chi,” is beautiful rendition. Hoai Sa has done a superb job of playing the piano behind Duc Tuan. The problem is that the track is six minutes long, and without variations, it gets worn out quick. Both “Thu Co Lieu” and “Buon Tan Thu” have a repetitive, mechanical drum track throughout, which doesn’t help Duc Tuan’s little fatigued and breathy vocals.

“Ben Xuan” and “Thien Thai” are good, but could have been better if Hoai Sa could add some colorization and dynamics into the harmonization—something Duc Tri has done so well in his orchestration. With an album like Truong Chi, production plays an important role in enhancing the music. If Hoai Sa could step up his game, the album would have been a great, instead of just decent, one.