British singer-songwriter Dido enjoyed a breakthrough in the US before she found success here in the UK. Her debut single Here With Me was used as the theme tune to the late 90s series Roswell and her track Thank You was sampled by Eminem for his chart-topping iconic rap track Stan. The success of both of those songs propelled Dido’s 1999 debut album No Angel to sales of over 21 million across the globe and cemented her as one of the biggest popstars in the world. 2003 follow-up Life For Rent proved to be another huge smash for Dido selling over 13 million copies, nearly 3 million of which were in the UK alone.
Seemingly unstoppable Dido stumbled with the release of her third album Safe Trip Home in 2008 and fourth album Girl Who Got Away in 2013. Both albums failed to match the commercial success of her first two albums and they didn’t capture the same infectious vibe that ran through those albums either. After 6 years away Dido has teamed up with her brother Rollo for Still On My Mind and the teaser tracks from the album sounded like a return to form could be on the cards.
The first track unveiled from the album was Hurricanes, a song that begins like an acoustic folk tune before heading into a hip-hop influenced dance direction. For me, that’s when Dido truly soars. Her distinctive voice works so well with beats and that ethereal quality that she captured so perfectly on No Angel is back again all over this record. At over 5 minutes in length, it’s the kind of song you can lose yourself in and just appreciate the fantastic production.
The album’s lead single, Give You Up, features a fairly simple piano arrangement but it sounds majestic. Dido’s vocals are layered and she’s supported by soaring backing vocalists. It’s Dido at her best and it’s simply spine-tingling. After that track Dido continues to play to her strengths and the songs certainly impress. The sparse beat-driven Hell After This is a little different but it works really well. Less is often more with Dido and minimal really suits her.
One standout is the pulsating Take You Home. It’s a little reminiscent of No Angel’s Take My Hand and possesses a quiet urgency that immediately seeps into your brain. It’s definitely one to turn up loud and let loose to. Mad Love breezes along with layered vocals, a catchy beat and shimmering electronic sounds. It may be one of the shortest tracks on the album but it’s one of the best.
Elsewhere on the record hip-hop beats are at the fore on title track Still On My Mind, Walking By is an understated piano ballad, and Friends is a dreamy soundscape that threatens to break out into a club banger. The album comes to a close with Have to Stay, a song about Dido’s son. The song is mostly driven by Dido’s vocal and the instrumentation is so subtle, you’d be forgiven for not noticing it’s even there.
Still On My Mind will sit proudly next to No Angel as one of Dido’s best albums. It’s superior to everything she’s done since then and it reminds you of why you feel in love with her gorgeous voice and songs in the first place. At times very understated, at others musically adventurous and interesting, Still on My Mind is the return to form I’ve been waiting for and it demands repeated listens.
Track list: 1. Hurricanes 2. Give You Up 3. Hell After This 4. You Don’t Need a God 5. Take You Home 6. Some Kind of Love 7. Still on My Mind 8. Mad Love 9. Walking By 10. Friends 11. Chances 12. Have to Stay Record label: BMG Release date: 8th March 2019 Buy Still on My Mind