On her sophomore release, Nua Hon Thuong Dau, Y Phuong steps up her game. Although the album is not perfect, it is way better than her debut Tra No Tinh Xa. The major improvement is the matured materials. Instead of wasting her voice and our time on junkie hits, she pours her heart out on some of the most emotional classics.
Y Phuong sure knows how to provoke the drama. Accompanied by strumming guitar and sawing violin, she drowns in her own tears on the title track. On Tuan Khanh’s “Chiec La Cuoi Cung,” she swells like a songbird with a lost soul across a crescendo. At the climax, she holds the high notes with her gorgeous vibrato. On Vu Thanh An’s “Bai Khong Ten So 8,” she maneuvers her flow around the bossa-nova arrangement effortlessly. Her rendition of Trinh Cong Son’s “Rung Xua Da Khep,” Ngo Thuy Mien’s “Bai Tinh Ca Cho Em” and Tram Tu Thieng’s “Tuong Niem” are well-delivered even when her pitch is a shade too high for comfort.
Nguyen Anh 9’s “Tinh Khuc Chieu Mua” sounds worn out partly because the song has been sung to death. This tune should be banned for a while before anyone could return to it. It desperately needs a break. On the contrary, Pham Anh Dung’s “Thien Than Mong Manh” sounds new, but out of place on this album. The nice, relaxed feel of the tune breaks the dramatic theme she has built up to that point. Without the last track, Nua Hon Thuong Dau is just depressingly pleasure.