Thu Phương is apparently very conceptual. Her latest release, Biển, Nỗi Nhớ và… Em, weaves together eleven songs about the sea to create a storytelling experience.
The lead-off track is a breezy cover of Đức Huy’s “Bay Đi Cánh Chim Biển,” thanks to Minh Hoàng’s lust, electrified orchestration. Then Thu Phương delivers a nostalgia rendition of Phú Quang’s “Biển, Nỗi Nhớ và Em” through acoustic picking guitar and sensational soaring strings. Along with the title track, some standout covers include “Biển Nghìn Thu Trở Lại” (Trịnh Công Sơn), a duet with Hà Anh Tuấn in “Thuyền và Biển” (Phan Huỳnh Điểu) and the album-closer “Nha Trang Ngày Về” (Phạm Duy).
Her version of Kim Tuấn’s “Biển Cạn” isn’t bad. The first minute and a half is gorgeous with just string-laden orchestration. Once the bossa-nova rhythm kicks in, it becomes like one of many “Biển Cạn” arrangements. “Bên Em Là Biển Rộng” (Bảo Chấn) and “Biển Tình” (Lam Phương) feel like they were filled in simply because both tunes are about the sea. With “Biển Nhớ,” her breath is all over the track.
Despite a few missed opportunities, Biển, Nỗi Nhớ và… Em is still a solid album that demonstrates not only Thu Phương’s vocal skills, but also her ear for arrangements and her creative concept.