Nhớ Mẹ sounds like a project Quốc Khanh and Đan Nguyên, the two buddies who shared the same inspiration, got together and just made the recordings. Their straightforward approach to classic tunes is surprisingly fresh.
On the title track, the two sing in unison and they sound so in tuned that it is almost impossible to tell them apart. Trúc Hồ made the clever decision of keeping the accompaniment to just strumming guitars to allow the boys to pour out their hearts.
In contrast, “Một Mai Giã Từ Vũ Khí” (Trịnh Lâm Ngân) showcases each individual voice. Đan Nguyên has a slight advantage because the tune fits his signature style, but Quốc Khanh is quite convincing as well with his candid delivery. They both sound marvelous together on the chorus. While Giang Tử’s rendition of the same song is told through a man who had experienced the wartime, Quốc Khanh’s and Đan Nguyên’s version is narrated through the sons of the veteran.
The aspiration is further displayed on Quốc Khanh’s cover of “Anh Không Chết Đâu Em” (Trần Thiện Thanh). Unfortunately Quốc Khanh used an old production from Trúc Hồ instead of coming up with his own. For art sake, he could have remixed it a bit even just slowing down or speeding up the tempo. That’s just pure laziness since he proves that he could make a decent beat for “Trên Đầu Súng” (Anh Việt Thu).
Đan Nguyên steps up his game on “Mất Nhau Rồi” (Ngân Trang), “Thành Phố Sau Lưng” (Hàn Châu) and “Liên Khúc Thành Phố Buồn” (Lam Phương). His phrasing has improved tremendously over the years. He brings a new vibe of youthfulness on the timeless tunes and he knows not to over-sentimentalize the lyrics.
While Nhớ Mẹ is not groundbreaking, it serves as a moment of introspection to remind us the part of Vietnamese history that we could never forget. Quốc Khanh and Đan Nguyên are among many of the Asia family to carry on the tradition.