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Dido - Safe Trip Home

Dido, Safe Trip Home

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DIDO may well be the biggest selling British female artist in the world today – surpassing even Katie Melua – but it’s not always easy to work out why.

There’s very little variation in her musical style. It’s simplistic, to say the least. That she was able to make her breakthrough based on being sampled on an Eminem record is amazing.

But then who said that sometimes the simplest things work the best? Perhaps it’s this easy ability to connect emotionally with her listeners is what makes Dido so special to them.

Safe Trip Home, her third album, may have taken a little time to assemble but anyone expecting this was because of a change in direction had best think again. This is very much comfort music. Sophisticated, intimate, perfect for dinner party backgrounds or wine bar accompaniment.

And that’s probably why it appeals and disappoints in equal measure. Personally, I think Dido could really surprise a lot of people if she really chose to stretch herself and take some risks. Her vocals are strong and the mere fact she allowed herself to be sampled by Eminem suggests there’s a brave soul lurking in her somewhere.

Sadly, the 11 songs that comprise the new long-player are exactly what you might expect. They’re melodic, folksy, laidback and occasionally beautiful. But Dido never seems to get out of first gear.

Don’t Believe In Love, the lead single and album opener, was actually quite an insipid first offering… and there are plenty more moments like it.

There’s a sombre tone about it, too… although this is probably drawn from the difficult period that Dido faced when her father was suffering through terminal illness. It does lend certain tracks extra resonance.

But sometimes you just wish the album would open up a little more. In the main, it’s built around Dido’s softly, softly vocals and fleeting instrumental flourishes.

Grafton Street is a prime example – a relatively stripped back offering until it bursts to life amid recorders at the three minute point. It’s quietly inspiring… but it also threatens to test your patience arriving in the wake of another slow-burner, Never Want To Say It’s Love.

The album works best when allowing a sense of hope to creep into the melodies… neatly offsetting some of the more reflective lyrics. Quiet Times is a prime example, as is the piano soaked It Comes And It Goes. They’re among the best tracks the album has to offer.

Us 2 Little Gods also drops a more upbeat style of folk, with handclap beats and acoustic guitars helping to drive it along in breezy fashion, while the late presence of Citizen Cope adds a welcome extra dimension to Burnin Love.

Producer Jon Brion also attempts to lend the album a fuller bodied sound, in places, with the inclusion of strings and brass arrangements – but, again, they’re either very subtle or employed late in the day on several tracks.

Dido can beguile with her beautiful simplicity (check out Let’s Do The Things We Normally Do), but she can also fade into the background too.

What she needs now is to deliver something that really forces people to sit up and take notice of her again. Like its name suggests, Safe Trip Home is a very safe, yet often appealing listen. Next time, however, we need to hear something more…

Download picks: Quiet Times, Grafton Street, Us 2 Little Gods, Let’s Do The Things We Normally Do, Burnin Love

Track listing:

  1. Don’t Believe In Love Listen
  2. Quiet Times Listen
  3. Never Want To Say It’s Love Listen
  4. Grafton Street Listen
  5. It Comes And It Goes Listen
  6. Look No Further Listen
  7. Us 2 Little Gods Listen
  8. Day Before The Day Listen
  9. Let’s Do The Things We Normally Do Listen
  10. Burnin’ Love – Dido & Citizen Cope Listen
  11. Northern Skies