Quach Thanh Danh’s fourth album, Nhu Da Dau Yeu, is snore-worthy not because of his vocals but his karaoke-standard productions. Even though his relaxed baritone is charming, the lifeless accompaniments make him sound so sleepy. It would have been a great album of cover if QTD were to hire either Hoai Sa or Duc Tri to provide him some simple but classy arrangements.
Yen Lam is unknown to me and I am not impressed with his work on this album. The use of zither on the intro of Anh Bang’s “Khuc Thuy Du” gives an impression that we’re about to hear a Chinese tune until the lyrics come in. The cheesy guitar riff on Truong Sa’s “Xin Con Goi Ten Nhau” is just unbearable. Yet, the most distracting sound is the programmed drums on most of these tracks. Phu Quang’s “Em Oi, Ha Noi Pho” is one of the best two songs on the album because the drums were illuminated. The strumming guitars offer a sense of intimacy to QTD’s warm voice. The other standout track is also from Phu Quang and without the rhythm section. The blending of tinkling piano and sorrowful violin brings a lonesome and chilling vibe to his soulful delivery on “Noi Nho Mua Dong.”
If Nhu Da Yeu Yeu were stripped down to just his voice accompanied by either a piano or a guitar, it would have been a worthwhile album. I have never heard of a Vietnamese singer who sings with just the double bass. Both Cassandra Wilson (on “The Very Thought of You” from her recent album, Lovely) and Kevin Mahogany (who did it live on stage) hypnotized me with just their vocals backed up by the plucking bass.