the bomba | Amsterdam, The Netherlands | 11/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dido's previous two albums, "No Angel" (1999) and "Life For Rent" (2003), sold an astonishing 21 million copies in total. Only her third album in nine years, "Safe Trip Home" somehow distils the essence of Dido even further. Dido has been taking some time to mature, both musically and emotionally. Where "Life For Rent" was a series of snapshots from the life of a newly single girl , "Safe Trip Home" is overwhelmingly coloured by the death at the end of 2006 of her father. The renowned producer Jon Brion (who has worked extensively with Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple and Rufus Wainwright), and her brother and long-time collaborator co-producer Rollo Armstrong know how to make the most of a distinctive vocal talent. On first acquaintance, it is almost sombre, such is the understatement of her arrangements. She has reined back on the electronics, with more real instrumentation. Even with a band playing silkily syncopated grooves, often underpinned by lush orchestration, the overall effect is one of quiet stillness. Her musical palette may have embraced the soft sounds of ambient electronics and the flowing melodiousness of folk, but she has a real gift for conveying simple, emotional truth with deceptively artful songs and the touching purity of her gentle, aching vocals. Her songs are about everyday experiences and relationships. These mostly deal with loss: of lovers, of time, of a more hopeful younger self, and also of Dido's father, who died in 2006. It's potentially affecting stuff, and the gentleness of the production - several songs sound as though they were recorded by candlelight - heightens the atmosphere of desolation and fragility. The album, as you'd expect, stays to her tried and tested formula of minimalism, ennui and trademark pathos - from the opening emptiness of "Don't Believe In Love" to the brooding closer of "Northern Skies" - driven by a club-heavy bass line, and adorned with bubbly keyboard trills - there's barely a chink of smiling light to be found in the dark opus. The outstanding song of the album is the piercingly beautiful, Celtic-flavoured "Grafton Street", a six-minute hymn to loss co-written with Brian Eno and featuring Mick Fleetwood on drums. Listen to it once and it will catch at your heart as a wrenching lament for a lover who will not return. The deceptively relaxed 'Burnin' Love' sets Dido's delicate tones against the warm, crackling vocal of Citizen Cope, a Brooklyn-based guitarist, DJ and keyboard player, bringing the best out of an affecting melody. On "Look No Further", she lays out the credentials that have endeared her to so many - spurning the high life that's surely within her grasp, she conjures a classically-cushioned, mellow beat-driven vision of hearth and home. Most affecting is "Let's Do The Things We Normally Do", "from your rebel songs sung out of tune, so my hand held longer than you need to". It is simply as fond as farewells can get. Dido plays keyboards, drums and/or guitar on most of the tracks. My favourite tracks: "Let's Do The Things We Normally Do", "Burnin' Love", "Grafton Street", and "Northern Skies", co-written with Rollo.
Life for Rent No Angel"
Different - But Just as Strong.
Morten Vindberg | Denmark | 11/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though Dido still sounds unmistakably like herself on her new album it is still obviously very different from her first two. Though some tunes are actually very melodic and catchy, don't expect to find big radio hits like "White Flag" or "Life for Rent".
The tone is generally darker, and many of the songs lyrically deal with theme of loss. Though some fans may be disappointed with Dido's new direction, I'm sure she will win new fans with this new record, which really shows the versatile artist she really is.
The first track "Don't Believe in Love" which has been chosen for the first single off the album, has been hailed by many as one of the best tracks - I don't agree. It's a funky track with a good beat, but it really doesn't have a very memorable melody.
In my view the next song "Quiet Times" is much stronger. It's an acoustic melodic song and for me one of several highlights on the album; though probably no good choice for a single.
"Never Want to Say it's Love" is a bluesy and cathcy tune, which I would seriosly have considered for a single - brings forward memories of the late Dusty Springfield.
"Grafton Street" is one of the key songs on the album. It's a dark and sad song, with some great Celtic sounds adding a lot of atmosphere to the great tune.
"It Comes and it Goes" is a lighter song and another track that may lead your thoughts towards Dusty Springfield og Burt Bacharach.
"Look No Further" was the first song to be released for download and it stands out as one of greatest tracks on the album. It has some of the beautiful simplicity as some of John Lennon's finest songs ( like "Imagine" or "Jealous Guy" ).
"Us 2 Little Gods" is an acoustic upbeat song, that probably a song that the sounds the most like her earlier songs.
"The Day Before the Day" is another sad quiet song dealing with theme of losing one you love. A very moving song.
"The Things we Normally Do" is a catchy melodic tune. A great original string arrangement - makes think of Suzanne Vega and her "Nine Objects of Desire" album.
"Burning Love" is another nice acoustic song, but probably the least memorable song on the album.
The closing track, the grandiose "Northern Skies" is another key track. Playing for almost 9 minutes it is a logical choice to close the album. A haunting tune that makes me think of the great late Sandy Denny - it really sounds like a song she could have written.
On the Deluxe version of the album there 3 more tracks that all are great additions.
"For One Day" is a funky track that would have fitted nicely into the album - a little in the same vein as "I Don't Believe in Love".
"Summer" is a great acoustic song that for incomprehensively reasons was not selected for the album.
The shorter version of "Northern Skies" is at least as strong as the long version - and nice to have this shorter version too.
A very commendable album."
Her Best Yet
Jon Huff | IL United States | 11/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased No Angel 2 days after it came out in 1999. Back then, no one had heard of Dido. It took about a year before she even had a sizable fan base. And then with a combination of Here With Me's appearance on Roswell and Eminem's sampling of "Thank You" her career exploded.
Since then, being a Dido fan has had it's ups and downs. The downs mostly consist of the long wait between albums. Long waits can be good for artists. It gives them a chance to live a normal life so they don't end up writing songs about things that are boring to most other people (like songs about touring or trying to write songs, for instance.) The down side is that expectations can be raised through the roof.
The problem with the latter, in the instance of Safe Trip Home, is that this album isn't really about first impressions. On a first listen, the album can be listened to without any one thing really striking you. It's pleasant and pretty but it can sort of go in one ear and out the other. Some people may never get past this step. This is usually a problem for me. Not that I want an album full of pop hits, but I do like at least a few songs that hook me right away.
But this isn't that type of album. For one thing, it very much feels like a complete unit. Dido comes back to the same themes again and again. The predominant ones seem to be death and love on this one. Some people might call it repetitive, but she never tackles them in the same way and dealing with the same themes isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, as long as you're saying something new. And in fact many of the songs can be read in a variety of ways if you don't just rely on Dido's bio info.
The thing that might surprise some is how the album works it's way into your brain. It only took a couple repeat listens before I realized I was often humming parts of songs. The album reveals itself as more layered and complex then you might imagine on a first listen. I keep finding little things I missed before. I realize there's a greater emotional and tonal range then I first realized. I do miss having a real roof-raiser like Take My Hand on it, but Northern Skies is a lovely, more measured ending to the album.
Dido's voice is the best it's ever been. It's incredibly confident - at the front of the songs, and relating emotion in a measured way rather then having to shrilly belt it out like some wannabe diva.
As for individual songs, Don't Believe in Love, Grafton Street, It Comes and It Goes, Burnin' Love and The Day Before Today are definite standouts.
I'd definitely recommend spending a little extra on the deluxe version. "For One Day" is an amazing song that is far catchier then it's subject matter might suggest.
So far the critics seem to love this one, and the general public seems to be a little mixed about it. I think, given time, people will see this for the masterpiece it is."
K. Carey | 11/21/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge Dido fan and have anxiously awaited the release of Safe Trip Home. Unfortunately, Dido has departed from what made her such an interesting artist and settled on a sound that fails to distinguish her from any other artist on pop lite radio.
Her first two albums artfully used electronica to create an atmostphere appropriate to her themes of heartbreak and disaffectation. Even when the lyrics weren't particularly riveting, the music infused the songs with an urgency or pulse that, years later, still lends them a modern sound.
With Safe Trip Home, Dido has removed most of the electronica and relies upon a much more organic sound. While it's nice to see artists branch out from tried-and-true formulas, the more organic nature of this album strips Dido's music of its signature sound. Dido's voice is lovely throughout the album, but nothing stands out about any of these songs.
Moreover, while her songs have always been tinged with, if not celebratory of, sadness, removing the intriguing musical atmosphere gives the listener no reason to care. Not a single song is upbeat or uptempo, causing one brooding song to simply roll into the next. Indeed, I found myself checking my CD player several times to see if I was still listening to the same song or if a new one had begun.
I can only recommend this album to true fans and I suspect even many of those will be disappointed. What a shame, as there is so much talent here."
I listen to heavy metal...
Metal Queen | Portland, Oregon | 11/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"and the harder the better. So the argument that it is "too" light is not a rating. This is an awesome recording by Dido. She has not done anything in a while and I've been waiting. She is an amazing singer songwriter, and woman. So five stars and no less for this beautiful, haunting, emotional, to the core of our being.. music."