Vietnamese-songbird Khanh Linh flies freely on her debut Hoa Mi Hot Trong Mua (Nightingale Sings in the Rain). Unlike Ngoc Khue’s Ben Bo Ao Nha Minh (By Our Pond), Hoa Mi Hot Trong Mua does not strike the shocking chord, but the strength is in the relaxing and easy-listening experience. Khanh Linh’s soft, sweet and sensuous voice gives Duong Thu’s folk compositions a fresh rebirth, even though they have been successfully covered by notorious names like Hong Nhung, Thanh Lam and My Linh.
Hoa Mi Hot Trong Mua consists of five tracks from Duong Thu and five from Ngoc Chau who is Khanh Linh’s older brother. Ngoc Chau is also responsible for the splendid production for the album. The flute and the piano on the title track, “Hoa Mi Hot Trong Mua,” are simple but seducing, and Khanh Linh makes the song sounds as if Duong Thu has written it exclusively for her. Her soprano voice is impressive when she emphasizes the word “hot” (bird sings). She almost sings opera but with a much lighter touch. The new-age vibe on Duong Thu and Nguyen Cuong’s “Hoi Tho Mua Xua” (The Breath of Spring) is sharp and ingenious. The exhilarating-saxophone break gives the song a drop of smooth jazz. On “Bai Hat Ru Mua Xuan” (A Lullaby of Spring), Khanh Linh starts off with a soothing a cappella then follows by a breathtaking fusion of horn and strings.
On Ngoc Chau’s compositions, Khanh Linh flows her heartfelt emotion effortlessly into “Dieu Khong The Mat” (Something Can’t Be Lost), a beautiful devotion to the mothers. The modern version of Miss Tam (“Co Tam Ngay Nay”) has both the traditional folk melody (the flute) and contemporary fresh tempo (the beat). Embedded in between the old and new sounds, Khanh Linh’s weightless vocals make “Co Tam Ngay Nay” an attractive hit. However, the record departs from the folk standards on “Qua Tang Trai Tim” (A Gift for the Heart), in which the guitar riff gives a rock attitude. Then the album-closer “Tam Biet” (Good Bye) leaves listeners with a slow pop. Hopefully, these two tracks are only her experimentations. She sounds best on soulful folk, not trendy pop nor hard rock.