Release Date: Mar 26, 2013
Record label: RCA
Differences between Dido albums can be measured on a small sliding scale. She never changes her style but she does change her sound, however subtly. Girl Who Got Away, her fourth album and first in five years, differs from its predecessor, the meticulously woven Safe Trip Home. That was an album tailored for domesticity, while Girl Who Got Away is a soundtrack for a night out, going so far as to make space for a guest spot for Kendrick Lamar, the alt-crossover rapper du jour of 2013.
In many ways, Girl Who Got Away is just another Dido album. Her brother Rollo Armstrong is on production duties again for this – her fourth studio effort – arriving after a characteristic four/five year gap since her previous release. But it’s also more than that. Ten years on from the release of Life For Rent, the record that went on to sell over 12 million copies worldwide, Girl Who Got Away arrives with no ill-gotten intentions to replicate former glories or ride on the coat-tails of a very British sense of heritage.
By the early 00s, when her albums No Angel and Life for Rent were selling by the tens of millions, Dido had became a byword for bland; this was music to have dinner parties to. But even a song as lyrically lame as the title track ("I wanna move with the seasons/And go with the flow") is a reminder of the lovely effortlessness of her voice. And, there are some more adventurous diversions, including a guest spot from Kendrick Lamar.
If Dido was hoping to prolong her reign as Queen of Beige, she's done the right thing by releasing No Freedom as the first official single from Girl Who Got Away. Guitars strum gently, the tempo is mid, and Dido has never sounded more listless as she wanly informs her man that their relationship can't flourish unless she's free to wander. It inhibits any desire to listen further, but once it's out of the way, the album – her first since 2008 – becomes surprisingly interesting.
Like her pseudo-historical namesake, Dido has had a tumultuous life. The London-born singer-songwriter born Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong saw a meteoric rise to fame after her first album No Angel saw international release in 2000. Her success persisted through the 2003 Life For Rent album but saw her become synonymous with blandness, similarly to her perhaps closest male equivalent David Gray (who also shot to fame in 2000).
Dido’s fourth album is both familiar and surprising, taking some unexpected turns. Nick Levine 2013 If you were playing a word association game and Dido came up, you might be forgiven for blurting out "boring". And in some circles she's certainly acquired that reputation. But hers is a musical formula that's proved hugely successful.
Dido “Girl Who Got Away”. (RCA).