Ngoc Quynh is a smart singer who makes wise choices. She not only knows her own voice, but she also knows how to choose songs and arrangements that complement her vocals. She has a sweet, sensual voice; therefore, she needs some lush, mellow orchestrations to back her up. On her new release, Cho Nguoi, she enlisted Duy Cuong (who is responsible for seven out of ten tracks) and Kim Tuan for the job and the result is a superb album for late-night relaxation.
Cho Nguoi begins with the title track by Lam Phuong. Duy Cuong’s sensational semi-classical orchestration sets off the mood allowing Ngoc Quynh to deliver the solitude and sadness of a homeless woman waiting for her lover in the middle of winter nights. Likewise, her version of “Mot Minh” (also by Lam Phuong) is soulful and intimate with the support of Kim Tuan’s gorgeous piano. The loneliness in her voice came through without being over-sentimental.
On Ngo Thuy Mien’s “Trong Noi Nho Muon Mang,” Ngoc Quynh sings like a wounded songbird, but she skillfully coveys pain without screaming on top of her lung like most inexperienced singers these days. Her duet with Tuan Ngoc on Le Uyen Phuong’s “Cho Lan Cuoi” is a wonderful collaboration. They complement each other’s phrasing while maneavering their way around the swaying bossa nova rhythm.
While the current Vietnamese pop market is saturated with covering old songs, Cho Nguoi takes on a tasteful approach. Although Ngoc Quynh doesn’t give these timeless tunes a new life, she has done a marvelous job of paying respect to the songwriters.