Ha Tran – Ca Khuc Tran Tien

Ha Tran apparently realizes the disaster of going overboard with the production on her Communication ’06. With her new release, Ca Khuc Tran Tien, she scales all the way back to a minimal approach. Electric guitar is the main instrument and the beats are mostly spare and ambient. Wise decision.

“Ra Ngo Tung Kinh” is a great starter. Although the production is very subtle, you could hear the temple bell ringing, voices of the children chanting, organic sounding, electric guitar licks, zither plucking and clap-like drums all come together to create an atmospheric vibe. Best of all, Ha Tran’s angelic voice never drowns in the production. “Ngau Hung Pho” sets in a straightforward Latin rhythmic and her vocals ebb and flow effortlessly along with the guitars. “Mot Minh” is an unadorned beauty. She starts off with the first few bars naked and then the simple plucking guitar joins in to allow her to pour out her heart and soul.

The major flaw of the album is that Ha Tran allows too many guest spots and they just interrupt the flow. Hoa Tran isn’t contributing anything outstanding. “Lien Khuc Chi Toi” is saved by the hypnotic beat and her gorgeous rendition of “La Dieu Bong.” Tung Duong is also a disappointment. His restrained delivery on “Doc Huyen Cam” is utterly awkward. The album would have been better if Ha Tran is the only one to run the show.