There was a time Doãn Hoài Nam (DHN) was a mystery within the Soundcloud community. There are too many covers of “Mơ” to count but his original could only be found through a shoddy video on Youtube. Then comes the surprise release of “Bất Ngờ” and the stunning “Hình Như Là”.
The curtain has been slowly raised and coming forward is a songwriter whose voice is among the most distinct and emotive we have ever had.
“Tiếc” (Regret) continues to show off the usual strengths of DHN: the sharp songwriting, the understated performance and the gift of choosing the right instrumentation to maximize the lyrical content. “Tiếc” opens predictably but ends its familiarity with the surprise appearance of harmonica. In a lesser hand, the instrument could have disrupted the overall balance and pushed the song to corny-ville.
Luckily in the case of DHN, he’s not afraid to let harmonica take the center stage and when you have that much conviction, it doesn’t matter how sentimental a song can get. In the second half, when drums join in, the whole song became that sort of rare dream-pop in Vietnamese music. And at this moment, it is clear that the quiet confidence of DHN can convince even the most fervent doubter.