It’s not a surprise that Ngoc Khue chooses to sing songs that are connected to her upbringing. It’s a surprise that she delivers them in such a restraint, stilted manner. Listen to her third album with a strange title, 365.hahoi.nk, which reads like a web address, one couldn’t picture how the beautiful, calm Ha Noi could turn Ngoc Khue into an eccentric sorcerer.
Gone are playful phrasings and wizard of flows that distinguish Ngoc Khue from the rest of the pop bubble. Ngoc Khue minus the wildness is simply boring. The closest cut that carries a bit of her idiosyncratic touches is Nguyen Vinh Tien’s “Ha Noi.” She alters her flow and soars like a songbird flying through Ho Tay. The blues solo piano on the break adds a fresh gleam to the tune. Ngoc Khue should have recorded his second album, Ngoi Tren Vach Nang, as well. Hoang Phuc Thang’s “Ha Noi Dem Mua Dong” has a nice blues-jazz groove, but she sounds retread. On Phu Quang and Quoc Chuong’s “Lang Dang Chieu Dong Ha Noi,” she suffers badly through the low notes. Her breathings are heavy and she sounds tired.
365.hahoi.nk is a well-crafted concept; however, Ngoc Khue is not the right choice for the songs. Hong Nhung would have a perfect singer to deliver these slow, picturesque ballads. These tunes don’t allow Ngoc Khue to push her vocals. Even Phan Cuong and Le Minh Son didn’t help release the creative beast in her.