Fuck Minh Tuyet and let’s make it official—Le Quyen is the new hooker. On the street, a hooker is someone who offers sex for money. In music, a hooker is a singer who lives by the hooks and makes luscious love to the hooks.
Le Quyen’s volume 3, Neu Nhu Ngay Do, is packed with catchy, contagious choruses. Right off the opening title track, she drips her thick, husky vocals over the banal lyrics like honey and ginger over plain, white tofu. On the Chinese-melodic “Tha Thu Cho Em,” she wraps her big-ass pipe around the hilariously-heartbreaking lines, “Neu em ra di bay gio thi nhieu nguoi se trach moc / vi da ben nhau bao ngay ma gio day doi thay,” as if girls these days really give a fuck what people say. With “Roi Mot Mai,” she brings out her rockability that is a reminiscent of Phuong Thanh.
Just when I give up on her for going down the trendy, poppy path, Le Quyen Acoustic pulls me back and gives me some hope again. Unlike Minh Tuyet, Le Quyen is not a mediocre singer at best. She has a dark, raucous, powerful voice with a bit of range. Her jazzy cover of Jimmy Nguyen’s “Mai Mai Ben Em” is intoxicating. She knows how curl her raspy, smoky vocals around the acoustic picking guitar and sentimental sawing violin. On Tran Le Huynh’s “Chan Tinh,” she completely erased Van Truong and intimately made it all her own. With Phu Quang’s “Noi Nho Mua Dong,” songbird Le Quyen trenches her soul into a bitter cold winter night and her delivery is a resemblance of the younger Thanh Lam who I truly missed.
Acoustic has its stale moments with tracks like Thanh Tung’s “Mua Ngau,” Duc Huy’s “Neu Xa Nhau” and Ngoc Le’s “Xa Roi Tuoi Tho.” Yet as long as Le Quyen doesn’t waste her voice with lollipop tunes, she remains one of my favorite Vietnamese vocalists.