Asia Icons – Mai Lệ Huyền

If you can get past the utterly reprehensible typographic and cover design, the live set dedicating to the iconic singer Mai Lệ Huyền is quite enjoyable. Mad kudos to Brian Morales for his brilliant work of reinterpreting her popular hits in the 60s to 70s and giving them a fresh, new makeover.

The rearranging of Khanh Băng’s medley is an exemplary example. On “Có Nhớ Đêm Nào,” Morales keeps the melody intact, but modernizes the tune with big band swing makeover. The hot-as-hell horn line weaves in and out of Hồ Hoàng Yến smoky voice creating a very energetic tempo. Hồ Hoàng Yến hasn’t sounded this passionate in years. Then Morales switches up the Latin flavor on “Hào Hoa” for Y Phương. The sax solo, followed Y Phương’s sexy singing, is mad intoxicating.

On Khanh Băng’s “Sầu Đông,” Morales keeps it straight rock-pop. What makes the tune stands out is his big staccato comping on the piano behind Nguyên Khang’s voice. The tune sounds so damn catchy that even my two-year-old son keeps requesting it on repeat again and again.

On another pop-rock “Con Tim và Nước Mắt” (Hoàng Thi Thơ), Diễm Liên has done an excellent job of mimicking’s Mai Lệ Huyền’s signature style. Diễm Liên’s big and soulful voice is a reminiscent of Mai Lệ Huyền’s youth. The iconic singer herself closes out the set with highly dynamic performances of “Ai” (Trường Hải), “Xây Nhà Bên Suối” & “Túp Lều Lý Tưởng” (Hoàng Thi Thơ), and “60 Năm Cuộc Đời” (Y Vân).

It’s such a wonderful treat when Asia steps out of its bubbles to bring its audiences something fresh. The new arrangements from Morales not only benefitted the established singers, but they also make newcomers like Lê Quốc Tuấn, Hoàng Anh Thư, Phạm Tuấn Ngọc, Hoàng Thục Linh and Cát Lynh sounded great.

For once Asia Entertainment takes us back to our past that was actually fun and not reminding us of the dreadful images of war.