Hồng Nhung – Vòng Tròn

After her groundbreaking Khu Vườn Yên Tĩnh released almost seven years ago, she retreated to the safe territory covering Trinh Cong Son’s songs and collaborating with her platonic pal Quang Dũng. The new release Vòng Tròn is an attempt to reinvent her style.

The title track and “Nghịch Nắng” start off promising. With spacious, mid tempo, electronic arrangments courtesy of Quốc Trung, the two tracks pick up where Khu Vườn Yên Tĩnh left off. Just when we’re about to get into the zone, the third track kicks us right back out and let us down all the way through. The production on “Danh Vọng” is just robotic and so is Hồng Nhung’s English singing. Even though her enunciation has been improved over the years, clarity is still an issue, which further proved on “Papa” and “Anh Đừng Đi.”

As for the rest of the tracks, Hồng Nhung is drowned out by the trunk-rattle bass and soft-rave productions. Her modern view of “Sài Gòn” is damn near unrecognizable as if the city is all about partying, popping E and chilling out. The use of Auto-Tune on “Bống Bống Bang Bang” testifies that Hồng Nhung is indeed trying to hard to stay young. Even though she is good at hiding her age—she looks as if she is getting younger as the years gone by—the change in her music reveals the desperation of trying to be ageless. Would you rather see Bống in a quiet garden or in the club grooving in circles? I rather see the former because I am a grown-ass man who isn’t pretending that I am still belong to the club.