Fresh from his marriage to beauty queen Jennifer Pham, Quang Dung cuts his sixth solo installment Xuan, another one-word title, for the forthcoming Tet season. From the track listing, the album promises to be a masterpiece. Listening to the tracks, however, suggests otherwise.
Given an incredible lineup of chirpy favorites ranging from the cutesy “Diep Khuc Mua Xuan” to the vibrant “Xuan Va Tuoi Tre,” Quang Dung fails to convey the aesthetics of these songs. His bravura and virtuosity is irrefutable, but here, he lacks the hypnotism and emotive energy to bring these tunes to life. A prime example is “Xuan Da Ve,” where he attempts to deploy his languendo vocal over the agitado accompaniment. And his rendition of “Don Xuan” sounds more like a Dieu Huong composition than a Tet classic. Still, the strangest track is “Xuan Hop Mat,” where he tries to embellish something that isn’t there. It’s not clear whether he’s harmonizing or leading when he lips “Xuân ĐÃ về / Xuân vẫn mơ màng” as “Xuân ĐÁ về / Xuân vẫn mơ màng.” The only passable track is Nguyen Duc Trung’s “Hay Mang Den Nhung Mua Xuan.”
Perhaps Quang Dung is feeling the destructive consequences of marrying a prissy hottie. Despite a terrific song selection, Xuan contains clumsy arrangements and annoying backup chorale while lacking vibrance. If this is the caliber of his future releases, I can think of only one fitting title for his next album, “Im” (shut up).