Album Review: Dido – Girl Who Got Away7 min read
It seems such a rare treat that singer-songwriter Dido releases a new record. It happens only every few years but when it does you can be sure that it is one that was well worth the wait.
Dido released her first record, No Angel back in 1999 following the hugely successful debut single, Here With Me being featured as the theme song to the hit teen alien teen show, Roswell. Dido joined none other than rap superstar Eminem on his violent single Stan, offering the rapper the memorable chorus which was taken from the singers 2nd single, Thank You. It may have been one of the most unlikely pairings in music but it proved to be a launching platform for Dido’s international career. No Angel went on to sell over 16 million copies and is her most successful record to date.
In 2003, 4 years after the release of her debut, Life For Rent provided us with a sophomore record and produced a series of internationally successful singles including the bittersweet White Flag, the upbeat and longing Sand In My Shoes and the gorgeous yet lyrically melancholic title track. The record was a huge hit the world over and sold a staggering 12 million copies.
2008 saw the release of Dido’s 3rd studio album, Safe Trip Home. Though the record didn’t reach the same sales heights as her first two releases and took a much slower approach than anything Dido has produced previously it was met with global critical acclaim. Most of the singles that were released from Safe Trip Home were offered in a digital-only format and the record received very little marketing which was a shame for the singer but nonetheless the record offered a further success tally to her career.
Fast forward just over 4 years and Dido returns to conquer the charts yet again with the highly anticipated release of Girl Who Got Away, the singers 4th studio album. Here she has teamed up once again with her brother Rollo who has produced the majority of this new collection. So far we have been treated to the albums lead single, Let Us Move On which unites Dido with rising rap star Kendrick Lemar.
We were excited by the release of Girl Who Got Away but weren’t quite sure if Dido could pull it off yet again. Safe Trip Home proved to be a fantastic record but a little too slow for our liking so it has been 8 years since we were offered a versatile collection from the superstar that contains more than just ballads. Thankfully Girl Who Got Away is just the record we need to fall right back in love with Dido as she offers us 11 brand new tracks of pure musical gold. In fact, we would be confident in saying it is one of the best collections she has offered us in her career.
We don’t usually do our review at Renowned for Sound in a track-by-track format but thought this record deserved a little more limelight than usually given so let’s just dive straight in shall we?
With a mid-tempo steel guitar strum Freedom opens the record and before long Dido unleashes her distinctive vocals, slightly echoed and slightly Irish-accented oddly but complimentary to the feel of the single. No Freedom is the second single to be released from Girl Who Got Away and she has chosen well with this track which is lyrically simple yet memorable and musically engaging.
The album’s title track follows and we are met with a warm synth intro before the beat kicks in around some electronic effects, utilizing the singer’s influences and roots in the dance and trip-hop genres. This one is musically minimalistic yet inviting and inspiring at the same time.
With some musical effects reminiscent of Lana Del Rey releases, the albums lead single Let Us Move On is up next and the song enlists the rap talents of rising star Kendrick Lemar. The song is effective when it comes to memorability as a lead single for a Dido record. We aren’t entirely convinced with the union of Dido and Lemar with the rapper sounding like he is trying his best to channel US super star Eminem who Dido collaborated with back in 1999 on Stan, particularly within the latter half of Lemar’s rap segment where he forces his angst-leaden vocals in similar style to Eminem. It’s has a bit of a try-hard feel to it which is a shame as the track, without the addition on Lemar, is a fantastic penning.
Blackbird raised the tempo slightly and opens with a trip-hop intro and contains one of the albums most memorable chorus’. Dido’s ability to deliver a song that sounds like she is reciting a sweet poem is evident in this one as she unleashes a gorgeous addition to the track listing here and one that is closest in style to her work on No Angel in the late nineties.
The centerpiece of Girl Who Got Away follows with End of Night. This one is one of my favorite Dido songs of her career and became a hit in my mind from the first listen. The track opens with some electro tapping before the singer dives in to deliver some scorned lyrics of a relationship gone bad and unveils a chorus that is confident and infectious. The tracks lyrics are optimistic and display a women taking charge of a bad situation with lines like “come over here so you can see me walk away” showing that this songsmith hasn’t lost her lyrical genius in the slightest. This addition takes the crown for best song on the album for sure.
The tempo is taken down a few notches on the following Sitting on the Roof of the World. A soothing string section sits subtly in the background of the song will some light guitar picking and a keyboard provides the tracks foundation for the singer to deliver a sweet ballad rich in the stars vocal inflections and a laid back vocal arrangement.
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Love To Blame gets the motor going again with a semi-reggae influenced feel. Dido’s sugary yet breathy tones settle into the track and though the vocals are casually unleashed here the instrumentation of the number refuses to hand this hit over as a ballad, lifting us in various sections and keeping the momentum high.
Up next is Go Dreaming which offers a number that could have easily slotted into Dido’s 2003 Life For Rent effort. It has an old school hip hop feel to it while being propelled along with Dido’s exquisite vocals and a complimenting male backing vocal lick appearing in the tracks latter chorus’. It’s another highlight on Girl Who Got Away that provides a further example of the singer’s flexibility and versatility among so many different genres.
Happy New Year is instrumentally stripped back and gives us a number telling of a woman’s inability to move on from a relationship that has ended. The subtle static laced instrumentation and eerie effects that transpire around the singer’s storytelling further add to the tracks lyrical intensity.
Loveless Hearts offers a pitch perfect and elegant addition in the closing minutes of Girl Who Got Away. The chorus is lifting and brimming with elements of pop, trance and house thanks to her brother Rollo’s tight production.
Closing the record is Day Before We Went To War. Opening and closing with the outdoor sound effects of leaves and the noise of a passing car, the track unfolds from the intro of a mellow keyboard instrumentation into a heartfelt and poetic outro to Girl Who Got Away and a fine collaborative effort with music icon and ambient music innovator, Brian Eno.
Girl Who Got Away is a reassuring effort for the singer-songwriter and envelopes both familiar and some new styles within a track listing that effortlessly nurtures some of the most engaging, thought-provoking and intelligently exquisite pennings of the musicians career to date. Though we aren’t surprised that the new record ticks all the right boxes given the pedigree of her releases over the years, it is a welcome return to her chart-topping form for a musical staple that we have missed dearly over these past 4 years.
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Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
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