Hoàng Quyên: Về

Hoàng Quyên and Lê Minh Sơn know damn well that you have listened to these songs many, many times already, and yet they still want you to hear them again. They also know that if they do anything to these beloved ballads, they would be damned for being sacrilegious. With a lesson learned through Thanh Lam’s Này Em Có Nhớ, Lê Minh Sơn has smartened up to refrain his musical direction as well as Hoàng Quyên’s vocal delivery. The first two tracks—“Giọt Nước Mắt Ngà” (Ngô Thụy Miên) and “Ru Đời Đi Nhé” (Trịnh Công Sơn)—carry the similar semi-classical vibe that made Thanh Lam’s Ru Mãi Ngàn Năm an instant classic. Whereas Thanh Lam injected so much personal experience into her singing, Hoàng Quyên expresses the lyrics with ease and innocence. Even when the band swings behind her in “Bài Không Tên Số 8” (Vũ Thành An) or the acapella voices surround her in “Để Em Mơ” (Nguyễn Cường), she focuses solely on your ears and nothing else. Although she brings nothing novelty to Phạm Duy’s “Hẹn Hò” and “Đưa Em Tìm Động Hoa Vàng,” her singing is impossible to ignore. With the closeness she brought and the tasteful, east-meets-west strings Lê Minh Sơn arranged to keep things flowing, they make damn sure that you’re tuning in.