Tran Viet Tan – Cham Vao Dem

Although Dr. Tran Viet Tan doesn’t make a living off his music, he sure knows how to put together a high-quality album. He either has the strong connection or plenty of dough to scoop up four brand-name vocalists (Hong Nhung, Thanh Lam, Ha Tran and Tung Duong) as well as big-name producers including Hoai Sa on his new release Cham Vao Dem. Furthermore, the album cover was well designed: stunningly simple and typographically clever.

Even with all that jazz, it can’t hide the fact that the doc is not a melodic composer. Hong Nhung had done her best to bring some life to “Vo Oc Thoi Gian,” “Bai Ky Niem” and “Song Ve,” but still can’t save them from being dead boring. The melodies are just flat. Thanh Lam tries to give the title track some rough edges with her irritating flow and annoying vibrato. She ends up making the tune unbearable. Even Tung Duong fails to make the doc’s song exciting. On “Dem Sapa,” he sounds as if he tries to kill an ant with a sledgehammer. The beat is light and bouncy, but his voice is so heavy and dull.

Listening to Cham Vao Dem is like going to an upscale restaurant. The decoration looks expensive and the presentation appears to be enticing, but the food simply has no taste. The up-tempo of “Hay Coi Nhau Nhu Tinh Nhan” performed by the doc himself is like the extra red bean soup you get at a Chinese restaurant at the end of the meal.