With 'Still On My Mind,' Dido Discovers The Magic Of Doing More With Less | WOSU Radio

With 'Still On My Mind,' Dido Discovers The Magic Of Doing More With Less

Apr 3, 2019
Originally published on April 4, 2019 9:41 am
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Sometimes a recording artist seems to disappear from the public eye. Often they will come back transformed with a whole different sound and outlook. And then there's Dido.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HURRICANES")

DIDO: (Singing) I want to wake up with your weight by my side, and I want to think that you look good as you rise. And I want to turn to you...

SHAPIRO: The British singer-songwriter's last album came out in 2013. After that, Dido disappeared to become a mother. She recently told NPR's Weekend Edition that she wasn't trying to restart her career when she began making music again. But reviewer Tom Moon says Dido's newest album called "Still On My Mind" does just that by doing more with less.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELL AFTER THIS")

DIDO: (Singing) Got a coin and a sun back in time, looking up, got the sky on my mind.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: It's a little like the fashion industry, this pop singer-songwriter game. Styles change rapidly. There's constant pressure to keep current.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELL AFTER THIS")

DIDO: (Singing) This feeling I'm fine, gone when you're gone, hell after this is gone when I'm home.

MOON: This time around, Dido mostly resists that. There are no radical swerves, no new frontiers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELL AFTER THIS")

DIDO: (Singing) If I'm going to hell after this I'm going to enjoy you while I can.

MOON: Instead, she and her multi-instrumentalist brother focus on the basics, like simple imagery and melodies that take advantage of the emotionally charged texture of her voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU DON'T NEED A GOD")

DIDO: (Singing) You don't need a god to pray I'm here. You don't need a god to stay out here.

MOON: It's an expansion by subtraction. Ditching the glossy sheen that sometimes overtook her earlier albums, Dido creates an atmosphere of clarity, serenity. She's always been a kind of vibe auteur, surrounding her voice with musical touches that amplify the wistful narratives. On her most engrossing new songs, like this one about her son, these touches have lots of meaningful space around them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAVE TO STAY")

DIDO: (Singing) And when we walk out hand in hand and you tell me about your day, nothing else matters but all you have to say.

MOON: There are a couple big, guns-blazing production numbers on Dido's new album, but for me, what works best are the tracks born out of quiet. These songs give the sense that during her time away, Dido managed to distance herself from all the trend chasing. She got connected to music on a more intimate scale. It's refreshing. And in a more varied pop environment, it might become a next big thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAVE TO STAY")

DIDO: (Singing) 'Cause that's what love is, darling. I'm here as long as you need.

SHAPIRO: The latest from Dido is called "Still On My Mind." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAVE TO STAY")

DIDO: (Singing) I'll smile and leave. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.