Quoc Bao – Q+B

Nine new tracks from Quoc Bao off Q+B don’t gravitate you immediately, but will slowly but surely grow on you. Quoc Bao enlisted a wide range of vocalists from the least experience (Hoa T. Tran) to the veteran (Quang Ly). Often time, an album with too many singers distracts the experience and Q+B is not an exception; however, producer Dung Dalat has skillfully weaved the records together with his crisp, simple and lively arrangements.

Mai Khoi kicks off a slow, sexy, romantic, pop-rock flavor on “Tinh Ca Hong” then Ho Quynh Huong rocks up a shiny mid-tempo on “Xa.” Quang Ly is one of my favorite Vietnamese ballad singers, but he’s not completely sold me on “Tinh Khuc.” His penchant for over-pronounced diacritical marks (specifically the diphthong with centering offglide like “cũng”) sounds irritating. It’s definitely Quoc Bao’s fault. Viet Thanh who is unknown to me yet has thrilled me with his charming, powerful voice on “Anh Yeu Em.” Ho Quynh Huong returns with another hypnotizing mid-tempo on “Tinh Nhu Trai Chin Muon.”

If I have to pick one track from Q+B, it has to be “Quynh.” Tung Duong sounds soulful and mesmerizing. He has his way of adapting his style into song instead of singing a song in his style. Hoa T. Tran is the least impressive vocalist on the album, yet he impresses me the most in playing and experimenting with his voice. The best part of “Dep Thuong Dau” is the little scat he pulls off near the end.