With December off, I finally acquire the leisure and quietude to catch up on some tunes and screen a few new releases for the holidays.
After drowsing through Cam Ly’s sapless shot at “nhac sen” in Khi Đã Yêu like a narcoleptic on Benadryl (seriously woman, stick to Minh Vy’s ballads and leave the classics to a more sonorous singer like Huong Lan), subjecting to the eardrum-wringing torment of Phuong Thanh’s Chanh Bolero, yet another suicidal shot at “nhac sen”, and surviving Dan Truong’s 24 pimping tracks with 12 female collaborators in Thập Nhị Mỹ Nhân, I finally discovered a diamond in the rough in Phuong Thanh’s 7th album Sang Mùa.
The album opens with the temperamental strokes of the piano, by which Phuong Thanh’s voice melodiously floats with solitude in Duc Tri’s “Sẽ Không Trở Lại.” With lyrics like “Ngày tháng lúc trước sẽ không trở lại / Lời hứa lúc trước sẽ không trở lại / Chỉ còn trong em từng ngày bơ vơ / Em muốn khóc muốn quên quên đi một người,” she lures her listeners into her melancholy world of wretched memories. She traverses further down the memory lanes through her soulful cover of “Mưa Buồn Dĩ Vãng,” “Tình Tuyệt Vọng,” “Vay Trả Nợ Tình,” and “Sang Mùa.”
Perhaps my favorite track is Le Quang’s “Trả Lại Anh Tình Đầu,” where she skillfully rides the crescendo to cry out her forlorn dejection: “Mình yêu nhau giờ là dĩ vãng / Giọt nước mắt nhạt nhòa tiếc nuối / Còn đêm cuối chờ bình minh tới mất nhau trọn đời.” The naked picks of the guitar alone impart an awesome loneliness, a silenced vulnerability so strong that pierces through even the coldest of hearts.
Sang Mùa combines a solacing voice with enticing lyrics that add to a tasteful blend of sounds and soul, altogether proving that Chanh still got the juice!