The new Tình Vẫn Thiết Tha indicates the emancipation of Y Phương. She is free from drowning her soul in Asia’s mechanical, recycled productions. Hearing her sensual voice covering non-Vietnamese standards without Asia arrangements is quite refreshing.
Y Phương is also experimenting with something new in term of getting the record out. Tình Vẫn Thiết Tha is released through digital channels like Amazon and iTunes rather than the traditional distribution, which is quite impressive, but the only issue is that she didn’t put too much effort into the album design. No credits are listed even though the producer had done an outstanding job of keeping the arrangements simple and tasteful, particularly on the bossa-nova flavors like “Bài Ngợi Ca Tình Yêu,” “Ngàn Đời Chờ Mong” and “Yêu Nhau Đi.” Her rendition of “Bài Ngợi Ca Tình Yêu” is the only Vietnamese version that is pretty damn closed to Ngọc Lan’s thanks to the swaying rhythm.
In many ways, this album could also be a tribute to the late great Ngọc Lan. From “Chuyện Tình Yêu,” “Chờ Phone Của Anh,” Yêu Nhau Đi,” “Người Yêu Đã Ra Đi” to “Người Yêu Ơi Giã Từ” are all classics that Ngọc Lan had built her fame on. Y Phương obviously got her inspiration from Ngọc Lan, but she also held her own. In Asia, Y Phương has been known to be a belter, but she has learned to refrain and to lay back. In “Ngàn Đời Chờ Mong” she never pushes beyond her range and only glides up just a tiny bit to give the lyrics a nice touch.
Y Phương caught my ears when she opened Asia 53: Bốn Mùa with Nguyên Khang back in 2007. I knew she has potential, but then she kept on disappointed us with release after release from Asia. It’s about damn time she makes her own record.