Five years after “Life for Rent”, her sophomore effort, Dido released her third album in November 2008 to an audience full of expectations that hungered to see what the artist would come up with after her second album had been the fastest-selling album for a female artist.
Five years, however, changed Dido and her overall style quite a bit. Even when her calm, soothing voice remains the same and we can still hear her trademark quiet rhythms, gone is the mostly easy listening style found in her two previous releases that made “Life for Rent” an amazingly easy to love album. In “Safe Trip Home”, Dido ditches most of her pop roots for a jazzier, adult sound, which can sound strange and even be hard to get to an unseasoned listener.
Nevertheless, the change in the musical style (which you’d come to expect from a growing artist) does absolutely nothing to hide the fact that, deep inside, the Dido that recorded this album is the same sweet, deep woman who was widely known for songs like “Don’t Leave Home”, “Hunter” and “White Flag”, for the lyrics in this release remain just as deep and abstract as they did in the previous ones, sometimes becoming deeper and more appealing than ever.
Straight from the first track, Dido takes us for a strange ride of different mixed styles, where sometimes the only thing keeping the album together is the sweet, mellow voice that characterizes her. The lyrics, on the other hand, seem to convey a hidden message in every song, making this the point where the album shines the most: If you, like me, love listening songs over and over in an attempt to understand exactly what the artist meant or felt when they wrote the song, this album is a godsend – Dido actually manages to fill up each song with sense, with themes ranging from sacrificing things for love (“Look No Further”) to revisiting past relationships while a part of the feelings remain (“Never Want to Say It’s Love”) and the loss of a loved one (“The Day Before The Day”).
The rhythms themselves also experiment changes, some of them quite heavy, ranging from the slightly upbeat “Don’t Believe in Love”, “Us 2 Little Gods” and “Quiet Times”, with its semi-upbeat ballad rythm, to the quiet “Look No Further”, which mixed with its lyrics (“I might have been a poet / Who walked upon the moon / A scientist who would tell the world / I discovered something new / But among your books / Among your clothes / Among the noise and fuss / I’ve let it go”) becomes one of the instant highlights of the record, and the sad, brooding “The Day Before the Day”, which immediately stands out as the killer ballad of the album – An expected result, considering the song itself was a way for the artist to deal with the death of her father.
The most upbeat (and one of the most easy listening) song in the recording is, most definitely, “Let’s Do the Things We Normally Do”, which almost sounds like an outtake from “Life for Rent”. “Never Want to Say It’s Love” stands up on its own, reminiscent of “White Flag” and “Don’t Believe in Love”, the latter of which appears earlier in the same album, and “Grafton Street” rises up with the second place in the album when it comes to ballad – Its soft, quiet rhythm along with its lyrics manage to catch the listener’s attention, though not enough or as deeply as “The Day Before the Day”.
“It Comes and It Goes” stands up as possibly the hardest to classify song in the album – Its constant switches between an upbeat and a soft rhythm making it seem like it isn’t clear on what it wants to be, but with lyrics that easily save it from sinking too deep in the album.
The last two songs in the album, “Burning Love” and “Northern Skies” are by far the quietest songs in the album – And possibly even the quietest songs Dido has recorded, both of them easily blending into the background, becoming almost ambient music. Not bad songs on themselves, but they easily drag (especially “Northern Skies”, with its 9 minute duration), the first of them taking the prize for being the weakest song in the album, with a rhythm that becomes too repetitive and tiresome.
All in all, “Safe Trip Home” is a great effort coming from a great singer, an album that shows just how much Dido has matured artistically since the days of “Here With Me”, its music being a departure from her previous pop style, and its lyrics going deeper (and sometimes becoming much more abstract) than before. From an artistic point of view, however, Dido almost manages to outdo her previous effort, but in the end it falls a little too flat, with an album where the songs can be seen as excellent on their own, yet as an album they tend to merge with each other a little too well, making it sometimes hard to differentiate a song from the other, or hard to know when a song has ended and the other begins.
Final review score: 4/5
Availability: The album is currently available on physical and digital form from Amazon.com
|Buy Physical Album
|Buy Deluxe Edition
|Buy Digital Deluxe