With Địa Đàng 2, Quốc Bảo proves that he is not only a forward-thinking pop songwriter, but also a thoughtful producer who knows damn well how to get the singer to deliver his musical concept. Although Nguyên Hà has a limited vocal range and a few minor issues of enunciation, she is a compelling storyteller. Quốc Bảo recognizes her strength; therefore, he crafts minimal arrangements with generous space for her to tell his tales.
The two “Ru” tunes in particular are perfect illustration. With “Ru 4,” Nguyên Hà sings like a drunken songbird in the rain and the accompanying piano added drops of despondency into the vocals. With “Ru 7,” she delivers the lyrics as effortlessness as reading a poem. The melody on both tunes are achingly beautiful. Another melodic piece is “Ta Như Trăng Hồng,” in which Quốc Bảo skillfully incorporated folks flavor into the pop tune.
Elsewhere, “Giọng Tình” showcases his lyricism with lines like, “The voice touches your chest like ghost.” In “Bài Hát Buồn Trong Mưa,” he uses interesting word choice: “Why doesn’t my heart shattered in the rain.” Ironically this is the most upbeat song in the album. Weakest is “Thì Ta Yêu.” What’s up with the fake-ass horn?
With the current trend of covering old songs in the Vietnamese pop scene, Địa Đàng 2 is a rare gem. With eleven original songs, Quốc Bảo demonstrates that he is one of the few Vietnamese songwriters that could still make new artful music.