The girl who came back with some fine songs
Album Review: The Girl Who Got Away (Sony)
The title of her fourth album is not – Dido insists – meant to be taken as autobiographical. But one would be forgiven for thinking it was, considering that she seemed to disappear after delivering two of the best-selling British albums of the past 20 years – 1999's No Angel and 2003's Life for Rent.
A third album – Safe Trip Home – came out five years ago and although it's a much better offering than either of its predecessors, it didn't sell well. And as much of it was inspired by the death of her father, Dido apparently considered it too personal to tour.
The Dido-haters must have been thrilled by her self-imposed absence. She's so boring, they contend; her vocals, one critic memorably noted, sound like a woman distractedly singing to herself while trying to locate the keys of her car.
But for those willing to look beyond easy put-downs, there's plenty to appreciate here. Sure, she may not be the most characterful singer in the world, but her faintly Celtic vocal has an earthy charm about it and it's an ideal instrument for her well-crafted songs.
Brian Eno – who co-wrote the heartrending Grafton Street from her last album – is on hand again: this time on the lovely, rambling Day Before We Went to War. And one of last year's most lauded newcomers, rapper Kendrick Lamar, guests on the arresting, beat-heavy Let Us Move On.
As ever, Dido writes songs with her brother Rollo Armstrong – ex member of dance-pop band Faithless. It's a union that can lead to some terribly safe material – Blackbird and Go Dreaming certainly won't convert the doubters – but when they hit the mark, as they do on opener No Freedom, the duo are a force to be reckoned with.
KEY TRACKS Let Us Move On; Day Before We Went to War