Bằng Kiều, Thiên Tôn & Đình Bảo – Đời Đá Vàng

Bằng Kiều, Thiên Tôn and Đình Bảo make an intriguing trio for two obvious reasons. They all musically trained and their voices cover an impressive range: Bằng Kiều with a soaring falsetto, Thiên Tôn with a charming tenor, and Đình Bảo with a delightful baritone. Using their various tones and individual strengths, they have found a way to harmonize themselves as a group.

On “Hạ Trắng” (Trịnh Công Sơn), arranged in a bluesy flavor, Thiên Tôn kicks off the first four bars with strong crescendo. Đình Bảo takes it up a notch in the next four. Bằng Kiều brings it back down a bit and the rest join in at the chorus. Bằng Kiều picks up the next bars with subtle-but-clever emphatic on “nắng” and “suốt.” Back to the chorus, each singer complements each other before they join force to take the tune out. Other outstanding collaborative efforts include the bossa-nova rendition of “Bây Giờ Tháng Mấy” (Từ Công Phụng), string-orchestrated version of “Nghìn Trùng Xa Cách” (Phạm Duy), and the mesmerizing album-closer “Tình Khúc Cho Em” (Lê Uyên Phương). Although the arrangement is impeccable, I would love to hear an acapella approach of “Tình Khúc Cho Em.”

Solo wise, Bằng Kiều gives a decent delivery of “Cây Đàn Bỏ Quên” (Phạm Duy). Likewise, Thiên Tôn gives pleasing performance of Ngô Thụy Miên’s “Niệm Khúc Cuối” and “Dấu Tình Sầu.” Đình Bảo, on the other hand, excels in his interpretation of “Mắt Lệ Cho Người” (Từ Công Phụng). With his clear diction and effortlessness (even in the high register), he is reaching for Tuấn Ngọc’s stature. Although no one could replace Tuấn Ngọc, Đình Bảo is the male vocalist that could come the closest.