On the first encountering of Hong Nhung’s performance in Trinh Cong Son’s “Nho Mua Thu Ha Noi (Recollection of Ha Noi’s Fall),” I had a feeling that she would do well on any song that is relating to the lovely Ha Noi capital. After many hours of searching through the old CD piles from three different Vietnamese music stores in Philly, I found Doan Khuc Mua Thu Ha Noi, Hong Nhung’s debut album featuring 10 songs written about Ha Noi. As I had predicted, Hong Nhung performances were exceptional and I was hooked on the album.
Although I was not borned and raised in Ha Noi, I could imagine its attractiveness qualities through Hong Nhung’s emotional vocals and the writers’ descriptive lyrics. Her natural delivery is the key success in these performances. Her voice sounds simple on the outer surface but packs with deep emotionalism down inside. From Hoang Hiep’s “Nho Ve Ha Noi (Remember Ha Noi)” to Hoang Duong’s “Huong Ve Ha Noi (Toward Ha Noi)” to Duong Thu’s “Mong Ve Ha Noi (Desire Ha Noi),” she takes listeners on a tour of Ha Noi along the gorgeous Ho Tay river, passing the green tree-lined streets, breathing the fresh scent of the buddings’ cream (Hoa Sua), and feeling the gentle breezes of Ha Noi’s autumn.
Elsewhere she blows new vibes into Trong Dai’s “Ha Noi Dem Tro Gio (A Windy Night in Ha Noi),” Truong Quy Hai’s “Ha Noi Mua Nhung Con Mua (Missing Rains of Ha Noi),” Tran Thu’s “Chieu Ho Guom (Evening of Ho Guom),” Phu Quang’s “Em Oi Ha Noi Pho (My Dear! Ha Noi City),” and Trinh Cong Son’s “Doan Khuc Thu Ha Noi (The Symphony of Ha Noi’s Fall).” She has done a fantastic job of expressing and renewing the writers’ poetic lyrics. Even with Doan Chuan and Tu Linh’s “Gui Nguoi Em Gai (To the Girl Going South), Hong Nhung comes close to Tuan Ngoc’s untouchable performance with her unique style.
Doan Khuc Thu Ha Noi is perfect in every aspect. The theme, the lyrics, the performances, and the musical productions are flawless. It’s rare to see such a cohesive collection where every track carries its own weight and the scale would tip if a song were left out. Much love and respect to Hong Nhung for this precious work of art.