Duc Tuan – By Request & Ky Niem

Duc Tuan’s latest releases, By Request and Ky Niem, show that he has un-sissified his phrasing, which makes his tenor much more pleasant to the ear. As the title suggested, By Request is a collection of his most-requested songs, presumably by his fans. Duc Tuan has been very conceptualized in crafting his albums; therefore, he wouldn’t cut album with this much variety. The result is very disruptive experience. “Sac Mau” is the only track that stands out of the rest due to the ingenious use of Roland TR-808 (ripped out of Kanye West’s 808 & Heartbreak) and Vietnamese traditional instrumentation. “Thoi” is definitely not a Duc Tuan’s choice.

Ky Niem, on the other hand, is carefully selected by Duc Tuan. His choice of Pham Duy’s tunes created an introspection of the songwriter’s life. The title track is probably one of Pham Duy’s most covered classics and there are many better versions than this one. Duc Tuan’s rendition is not that bad. It’s just not unique. In contrast, “Chiec Kep Toc Thom Tho” is excellent. The semi-classical arrangement with a bit of ambient vibe provided the space that is essential for story-telling. “Chieu Ve Tren Song” is another heartfelt cover with string orchestration. The double disc, however, is unnecessary. The English version of “Giot Mua Tren La” as well as the three bonus tracks could have been left off to create one solid album.