When Lệ Quyên experimented with sentimental ballads with the release of Khúc Tình Xưa, she gained tremendous traction. I even raved about it. Hearing her covering old tunes for the entire record was rejuvenating. Then she dropped the sequel, Khúc Tình Xưa 2, but it lost all the momentums of the first one.
With her latest release Dòng Thời Gian, she moves to romantic ballads like “Bản Tình Cuối” (Ngô Thụy Miên), “Một Mình” (Lam Phương) and “Xóm Đêm” (Phạm Đình Chương). While her vocal delivery is spot on, the musical arrangements and the interpretations are shortcoming. Other than “Mắt Biếc” (Ngô Thụy Miên), which gets a nice bossa-nova orchestration, most tracks are straightforward. Her heart-rending rendition of “Xin Còn Gọi Tên Nhau” (Trường Sa) is a successor to Le Thu’s. Nguyen Ánh 9, who made quite a few controversial statements recently regarding to singers who are fucking up his music, would approve Lệ Quyên’s rendition of “Cô Đơn” because she stays faithful to his original composition.
On one hand, the music is timeless for a reason and it doesn’t need any update. On the other hand, it feels so safe. There’s not even an oz of inventiveness in the album. Dòng Thời Gian is a classic good taste, but also just the same old shit.
In addition to covering old songs, Lệ Quyên releases Con Tim Dại Khờ simultaneously for no other reason than to keep her name in the pop game. It’s a straight trendy record that would come and go in probably a few months, if not a few weeks.
Seven out of the eight tracks aren’t even worth mentioning. The lyrics (from Duy Mạnh, Thái Thịnh, Trương Lê Sơn and Hoàng Nhã) are cheesy and the productions are just lazy. “Chôn Dấu Một Tình Yêu” (Lương Bằng Quang) is the only joint that stands out. The beat picks up a little bit with a mid-tempo r&b flavor and Hồ Ngọc Hà stole the show.
These two albums show that Lệ Quyên needs to break out of her comfort zones and take on a new challenges. Staying on the treadmill is not going to get her to the next level.