It's a nice voice, to be sure, but you wish that just once she'd allow it to convey some of the feeling that is bubbling below the surface.
Dido: Safe Trip Home
It's been five years since Dido's last album, Life for Rent, and the singer has clearly spent the time attempting to fine-tune her airy trip-pop into something more resonant. Safe Trip Home, her third effort, is a collection of melancholy musings that reflects a new-found emotional and lyrical maturity and hints at a deeper sadness than anything she's done before. The death of her father in 2006 no doubt informed this darker Dido, and at least two tracks speak directly to the experience. Grafton Street, perhaps the standout song on the album, is a luscious lament penned by Brian Eno featuring Mick Fleetwood on drums and the singer herself on, yes, the recorder (somehow it works). On The Day Before the Day, when she sings "No flags will fly, the sun will rise/But we know that you are gone", you can't help but be moved. But it doesn't really matter how much sentiment is poured into the lyrics when the voice isn't equal to the task. It's a nice voice, to be sure, but you wish that just once she'd allow it to convey some of the feeling that is bubbling below the surface. Thankfully, the producer Jon Brion's gorgeous string arrangements on Never Want to Say It's Love and Let's Do the Things We Normally Do help to fill in the emotional gaps left behind by Dido's vanilla vocals. Safe Trip Home is not a commercial album; there is no gazillion-selling Thank You here. But it is a pleasant enough collection of thoughtful, if sleep-inducing, pop.