Dido

Safe Trip Home

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Perhaps even Dido realized that the chief criticism lodged against her first two albums was that they were a bit too placid, so she decided to change things, albeit subtly, on her third, Safe Trip Home. This album appears five years after 2003's Life for Rent, which is only a year longer than the gap between No Angel and Life, yet it feels like it had a longer gestation: Dido's songs are subtler and richer, and so is the production, largely a collaboration with Jon Brion but also featuring Brian Eno on "Grafton Street." These are two of an impressive lineup of guests who range from Mick Fleetwood to Citizen Cope and ?uestlove from the Roots, but don't be mistaken in thinking that this is a dramatic break from Dido's elegant, shimmering past: it's a deepening, adding layers and textures, both musical and emotional, that are apparent upon the first listen but reveal themselves more with repeat spins. This is less about the surface -- something that Life for Rent could sometimes seem to be all about -- than what's underneath, as Dido's songs here gently hook their way into the subconscious on. There are melancholic edges, but it's not haunting, it's comforting, reassuring music that's quietly powerful, music that Dido hinted at before but never quite made.

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