Le Minh Son – Mot Khuc Song Hong

On the new release, Mot Khuc Song Hong, Le Minh Son offers his own sketches of Hanoi. After his failed attempt to sing in his last release, Le Minh Son has smartened up to know not to deliver the songs himself; therefore, he enlisted his veterans (Thanh Lam, Tung Duong and Ngoc Khue) as well as rookies (Hoang Quyen and Ha Linh) to help out with the vocals.

Tung Duong sets off the album with “Ha Noi Cua Toi Oi.” As always, Tung Duong delivers the tune with soul, power and individuality. Le Minh Son’s simple strumming guitar is a perfect complement to Tung Duong’s voice. The sensational, Miles-ballad trumpet solo heightens the vibe of the tune. Ngoc Khue continues with “Co Ve Pho,” in which she brings back her child-like signature in Ben Bo Ao Nha Minh. Again Le Minh Son’s accompanying guitar is marvelous along the distinctive sound of the Vietnamese flute. Although Hoang Quyen is new to me, I dig her dark, raspy vocals immediately on “Ret Dau Mua.” On here, Le Minh Son switches up his guitar for some Latin flavor. The best part is when he picks an obstinato in responding to Hoang Quyen’s upper register. The arrangements get more complex after the third track, yet they become less intriguing. Le Minh Son should have stayed with the simple acoustic throughout.

The Lam-Son collaboration used to be a match made in heaven, but now it’s a match made in hell. They should mesh well since Son likes his songs to be sings with authority and passion. Thanh Lam definitely has both. In fact, she is over-qualified. As a result, her vibrato on the big notes is unbearable, especially on “Truoc Giao Thua.” On the title track, Thanh Lam sounds like she’s in a trance and she uses vibrato like T-Pain uses Auto-Tune.

Ha Linh who is also new to me closes out the album with “Han Han.” The song sounds more like Ngoc Dai than Le Minh Son. Nevertheless, Mot Khuc Song Hong offers some refreshing new tunes instead of the endless covering of old tunes that currently dominating the Vietnamese pop scene.