Album Review: Girl Who Got Away by Dido

Since her last studio album, Safe Trip Home (2008), Dido returned to a life dedicated to herself and family.  Since Safe Trip Home, Dido has become a mother and has stepped away from the limelight, however what’s crazy interesting is the fact that Girl Who Got Away, was finished in 2010, way in advance of any of this.

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The album, which is sonically and emotionally more diverse than 2008’s Safe Trip Home, is reminiscent of her neo-pop classic No Angel (1999). Girl Who Got Away’s greatest accomplishment is its fluid messages and mood changes, that seem eternal.  Most of the songs seem as if they were inspired by motherhood, family, and love.  Now that we know the album was finished beforehand, the fact that this album seems relate-able and applicable to various mood and situations speaks to the power of Dido and her collaborator’s artistry and ability to tell stories.  


Artistry

Girl Who Got Away, covers everything from realizations and questions about love, loneliness, confusion, contentment, self-worth, ideals, relations, expectations, sex, coffee, etc .  Girl Who Got Away is a refreshing departure from Safe Trip Home, because it reminds the listener of what Dido has to offer, artistically and sonically.  In songs like End of Night and Love to Blame, we see what sets Dido apart from most of her contemporaries and the younger crop of new singers…she knows exactly who she is.  She is an adult, a woman, and a person. Thus making this not only classic Dido, but an honest affair that allows the listener to relate and explore their own individual stories as Dido analyzes, divulges, and explains hers.

Sound

Like her contemporaries, Dido pushes the envelope…but within her lane.  Like Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Sarah McLachlan, Dido is expected to have acoustic pop, downtempo electronica, and soothing vocals accompanied by poignant lyrics.  Girl Who Got Away can be called an exciting recap of all things Dido, while successfully avoiding triviality and boredom by collaborating with new and old artists and producers to update her sound.  Let Us Move On has been compared to her classic collaboration, Stan, with Eminem, Blackbird updates the electronic influences on Dido classics like Honestly OK (No Angel), and Day Before We Went To War is somewhat of a refreshing take on the heartbreaking Grafton Street (Safe Trip Home).

Arguably the downside to Girl Who Got Away, is Dido’s limited use of her vocal range and style.  Though her voice still contains that soothing, yet emotive quality, there is little variety in her delivery in terms of vocal dynamics.  Though her singing still remains exquisite, there isn’t a vocal moment that seems to match the vulnerability and power in her voice on Dido classics, like Hunter, Here With Me, and Worthless.

Top Picks:

Love To Blame

This one of those songs that really has its greatest impact on you when you’re under some sort of influence.  After a few drinks and this song comes on, you can feel all types of sexy.  Also, this one of the few songs on Girl Who Got Away that showcases Dido’s sexiness and maturity.

Happy New Year

The lyrics here are especially vivid.  The opening lines are so easy to visualize as Dido leads you into a false sense of hope and into a sadness that only Dido can deliver so peacefully yet effectively.

Let Us Move On

Though it’s a few months old, Let Us Move On is still one of the strongest picks from Girl Who Got Away.  The track is dark, vulnerable, and dynamic.  Not to mention the production during Kendrick’s rap is ridiculous!


All I See

A sexy eletronic - hip hop number, that finds Dido giving a lustful and sexy delivery, while keeping it grown and mature. All I See has a dangerous sounding groove that sexy and addicting, with guest Pete Miser serving as Dido’s provocative counterpart.

BOTTOM LINE: A-

Girl Who Got Away is a superb album, not just because of its musical accomplishments, but also because of its emotional and metaphorical aspects.  The album is never in stasis, but rather with every listen the songs can take on a different meaning, elicit different emotions, move your body differently, and bring up unexpected memories.