Thiên Kim – Xa Vắng

Everyone turns “sến” these days. No crime in that. We all need a bit of over-sentimentalism once in a while. Thiên Kim’s latest release, Xa Vắng, is not a bad record of “sến.” Her simple delivery turns out to be quite effective. She goes for the core emotion rather than the superficial drama.

“Chiều Tây Đô” is a great example. She covers the song in a straightforward manner. No pitch correction nor tonal embellishment was needed. In fact, her voice even cracked at several spots as if she came down with a cold and that is the raw beauty of her delivery. Unfortunately the production is counterintuitive to her voice. The programmed strings and steady percussion work against rather complemented her vocals. The outcome would have been much more compelling if only the picking guitar accompanied her voice. We don’t need to count the beat to figure out it’s a fucking bolero rhythm.

Again, the vocal delivery on both “Phút Cuối” and “Duyên Kiếp” is superb, but the arrangements are so typical of Asia productions. “Tình Lỡ” would have been a better solo piece. Quốc Khanh just doesn’t have the chops for “sến.” The “Lâu Đài Tình Ái” duet is also a mismatch. It feels such a letdown after “Chiều Tây Đô.”

Though her version of “Hận Đồ Bàn” is quite good, it doesn’t stand a chance against Bảo Tuấn rendition. He fucking owns that song like Tuấn Ngọc owns “Riêng Một Góc Trời.”

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