Dido had an immediate impact on me as an artist when her debut and sophomore albums were released. I had never really heard music like hers. It wasn’t what I was accustomed to listening to at that point in my life. She wasn’t Christina, Mariah, Britney or any of the other popular singers of that time, she was Dido. She was considered to incorporate aspects of electronica into her music and wasn’t the diva-prototype I had come to love by my teens; however, she was massively popular. Her music was inspiring to me, it made me think, which is something that other music had not made me do. It was personal. I wrote about it last year, but I specifically remember listening to Life For Rent after my first perceived understanding of what heartbreak as a gay man was like.
So now we find Dido 20 years into her career, 5 albums deep. One may wonder if she’s lost her luster. Both her debut and sophomore albums are in the record books for being two of the best-selling albums of all-time in England. After those two albums, the sales and popularity seemingly declined. Critics relegated her to elevator music. As a fan, I reading those opinions upset me; they just didn’t get it. I heard and felt the value of everything she shared with us on record. So now, here we are after a wait that felt like decades with Still On My Mind, her fifth studio album. I am proud to say it is a triumph.
The album is all shades of Dido. Her music has never been one that could age. It remains crisp, thought-provoking and meaningful. Still On My Mind definitely is her most ambitious record to date, incorporating electronica and some sounds that fit perfectly into the music-landscape we have come to know. Songs like Mad Love and Take You Home find themselves bursting with lush trop-house rhythms and compelling choruses, cheeky even.
Give You Up, the first single, is classic-Dido without the co-writing credits she’s always maintained with her music. Give You Up is haunting and harkens back to the music she made on her first two records, yet still remaining current and fresh. Along with Give You Up and Chances both could fit easily into Life For Rent, but stand out on this album as three strong performances.
There are two songs that could easily also fit into Girl Who Got Away due to their similarities. The title track Still On My Mind is an achingly beautiful tribute to her fans and her love for music. A great introspective moment looking at her career, akin to Roof of the World. Friends reminds me of a less sinister sister to End of Night, the second single off her last record.
Interestingly enough, even the songs written about her daughter don’t lessen the quality of the music for those of us who “can’t relate”. Have to Say, the closing track, is a song for her daughter. Celtic in construction, the song is a hymn to her daughter, but is too beautiful to deny. Frankly, it may be one of my favorite moments in the album.
Simply put the album has no valleys. I’m still trying to find the flow of the album, something that was extremely present in Life For Rent and Girl Who Got Away. The album is filled with twelve songs that play to Dido’s strengths and remains elegant and thoughtful throughout its entirety.
This summer Dido is also embarking on her first tour in over 15 years. She is coming to Chicago and luckily I will be seeing her in concert for the first time. I even spent the extra cash to meet her during the soundcheck that day.
2019 has truly produced extremely wonderful music within the first three months, Dido’s Still On My Mind, included.