Freddie Matthews writes from London: If you think about it, Dido helped Eminem launch his career as much as Eminem helped Dido. The song Stan from Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers album in 1999 featured a sample from a song called Thank You from the, at the time, unknown singer Dido. Stan was literally massive, a No. 1 in 13 countries and top 10 in 19 countries worldwide. It was the perfect launching platform not only for US rapper Eminem but also eventually for England’s Dido, but the single wasn’t an international hit until December 2000.
What a lot of people didn’t realise, however, was that before 2000’s single with Eminem, Dido was already a performer as a singer for her brother’s band, the British dance act Faithless. Dido first sang for Faithless on their 1996 debut album Reverence and not by chance either because Rollo Armstrong, one half of the band was Dido’s brother, and he paid her by taking her out to an Indian restaurant for dinner and that was that. Before Dido’s debut album, No Angel, was released she was once more featured on the second Faithless album Sunday 8pm, which once more helped raise her profile.
By the time 1999 came around Dido’s profile from her work with Faithless wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be to achieve much success. In an uncanny piece of fortune her record label Cheeky Records was sold to BMG records in 1999, which subsequently delayed the UK release of Dido’s debut album, No Angel. She was able however to carry on promoting the album in the USA. I imagine at the time she’d have been pretty miffed but in hindsight the UK delay couldn’t have worked more to her advantage. When Eminem’s Stan finally broke in late 2000 early 2001, featuring that timely Dido Thank You sample, the No Angel album was finally released just weeks later worldwide in February of 2001.
Dido’s, or Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley Armstrong’s debut album, No Angel, sold over 21 million copies worldwide and is still selling. I suppose this isn’t a surprise in the slightest, considering that initial success. The album also featured a producer who was very well known to Dido, her brother Rollo who has also featured as a producer on every Dido album since. No Angel to this day remains amongst some of the bestselling albums in UK Chart history, as does her follow up album Life For Rent, from 2003.
29 million album sales on and Dido is back once again with album number 4, Girl Who Got Away. She’s already stated that in an attempt to take this new album in a different direction, it will have a much greater electronic approach, although on my first listen it wasn’t vastly different to her back catalogue. It does become more electronic, quite old Faithless sounding in fact but often it’s so background there’s nothing blatant or obvious, in particular on tracks like Loveless Hearts. Let Us Move On (Featuring Kendrick Lamar) and The Day Before We Went To War have a more electronic influence. What’s the featuring artist all about? COME ON…. we’re really sick of featuring artists. She should have stuck to her guns and not fallen into the music cliché trend trap. I’m no Hollywood producer but even I know that featuring artists are on their way out and guitars on the way back, at last. I know Kendrick Lamar needs the publicity but it stinks of a Eminem/Dido role reversal going on here.
There’s no arguing with Dido’s perfectly subtle yet endearing vocal. It hasn’t changed in the slightest. It’s sensitive, simple and sublime.
No Freedom and Sitting On The Roof Of The World will sweep you away with effective yet basic lyrics, almost like a child writing a song. There’s never anything tricky or overly intellectual but as Dido’s proved many times, it really sells.
End Of The Night has to be a single in the making. It’s dark, electronic and almost cool with it. Did I just say, ‘Cool’ and ‘Dido’ in the same sentence?
This is an extreme grower of an album. You’ll need to listen at least 5 to 10 times minimum to start getting any enjoyment.
What’s with Brian Eno’s involvement anyway, surely he doesn’t need the money?
There’s nothing overly wrong with this brand new Dido album but it leaves me uninspired and I know she can do so much better. Dido’s worldwide fanbase will guarantee Girl Who Got Away will be a multi-million seller but where’s the achievement in that? It’s just more of the same, there’s nothing new here I’m afraid ….. ‘Yawn’.
If you’re a devoted Dido fan I’m sure you’ll love the new material. The production values are good, it is quite Faithless circa 1996 in places, which also isn’t a bad thing. But I would have liked more progression, more new, more inspired, more vision, more creation, more emotion and quite simply more true Dido.
Girl Who Got Away can stay away as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always preferred to move on and not look back.