Hà Anh Tuấn – Lava (Dung Nham)

After four years on hiatus, Hà Anh Tuấn returns with a production-driven album. The process begins with producer Nguyễn Hoàng Gia coming up with the beats. Then composer Nguyễn Hoàng Anh and Nguyễn Bá Hùng Lân write the melodies and arrangements before returning them to Nguyễn Hoàng Gia for the lyrics. As a result, the beat is the major force behind the album.

After two minutes of pointless intro, the album starts with “Cuộc Chiến,” a strong, hip-hop backbeat complementing lyrics about self struggles: “Cơn đau hôm qua không còn dấu vết / Chỉ còn lại nổi sợ và hoan mang / Chẳng thấy bống dáng của ai kia / Tự mình lại làm mình đau.” “Vô Hình” begins with a lonesome piano stroll before the thumbing drum bass kicks in. The story of battling oneself is now shifted to invisible love. “Thủy Tinh” continues with a pop-rock progression. The theme stays on the heart-broken territory: “Vỡ tan dễ như chiếc ly thủy tinh tự mình đánh rơi trong một cơn mê say.”

“Nhịp Si Mê” switches to an infectious reggae groove before “Cứ Thế,” the only slow joint on the album, takes down the vibe. Xanh Mãi (Forever Young) picks it up again with a R&B-rap collaboration and a positive message: “Tuổi trẻ luôn đi tới không nên rút lui / Vẽ lên những giai điệu cho bạn cho tôi / Để sau này nhìn lại ta không tiếc nuối.”

The title track closes the album with futuristic rock production. Although the concepts and the styles are all over the map, the beats keep the album coherent. It’s always a treat to hear a Vietnamese album with quality productions.