Unlike her exceptional Lênh Đênh Nhớ Phố, Giang Trang opted for a new sound on her follow-up Hạ Huyền. Still covering Trịnh Công Sơn’s music in her minimalist delivery, but she replaced the simple violin-guitar combo (Anh Tú and Anh Hoàng) for more complex quartet consisted of guitarist Nguyễn Văn Tuấn, flutist Sương Mai, cellist Lê Thanh Long and percussionist Trần Xuân Hòa.
While she gains more textures in the arrangements, she completely loses the interpersonal interaction with the instrumentations that made Lênh Đênh Nhớ Phố so damn intimate. On most tracks, particularly “Còn Tuổi Nào Cho Em” and “Như Chim Ưu Phiền,” she seems to be fighting with the flute. The percussion adds no rhythmic value to the arrangements. On “Như Chim Ưu Phiền,” the flute is indeed sounding like an annoying little bird keeps tweeting in her way making me wish I could slingshot that sucker.
Setting the flute as a main melodic accompaniment is the arranger’s biggest misstep for the album. Perhaps the only outstanding track on Hạ Huyền is “Vết Lăn Trầm.” With the flute and percussion out of her way, she delivers Trinh’s heartfelt lyrics like she lived it.