Required listening: Dido’s “Girl Who Got Away”

I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Dido ever since she hit the scene in the late 1990’s. She’s had some massive hits, and those are the ones I struggle the most with; I’m not particularly enamored with “White Flag,” for instance, and never really have been. Yet I’ve always loved tracks like “Hunter,” which featured on her debut “No Angel.”

Dido was vaulted into prominence in 2000 thanks to a keen sample by Eminem, and since that time her musical output has been quite spaced out.  In that way, she reminds me of artists like Enya and Sarah Brightman; people who tend to produce consistent work, but may take significant breaks between efforts. In fact, she just released only her fourth album in 15 years with last week’s release of “Girl who Got Away.”

The album takes a more electronic approach at times, versus the more organic approach of her previous albums.  The singer still feels at home, but the music feels rejuvenated when chances are taken, such as second single “End of Night,” featured at top, a song that I found after enjoying it for the past few days, proved to be yet another co-written and produced by Greg Kurstin, who’s becoming a common theme around here. Dido and Rollo Armstrong are responsible for the bulk of production, including “Let Us Move On,” which features Kendrick Lamar.

The album as a whole won’t be all that surprising to those familiar with Dido’s previous output; even with the electronic sounds, it doesn’t drift too far from her sweetspot of moody, melancholy mid-tempo tracks and ballads. Despite that, it does evolve her sound nicely, keeping her relevant in 2013, and shows some surprising elasticity in the Dido sound.

Additional listening

Her third album, “Safe Trip Home,” was released in 2008 and featured the collaboration between her, Armstrong and Jon Brion, who was notably the original producer of Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine.”  Above is my favorite track from the album, “It Comes and It Goes.”

Brion’s touch is clearly felt on the tracks, and serves to enhance them beautifully, just as the electronic influences on the current album do. Here’s one more selection, “Don’t Want to Say It’s Love.”

And, of course, a Dido round-up isn’t complete for me without “Hunter,” which has been a favorite of mine for over a decade.

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