Monday, March 25 By: John Campbell
English songwriter Dido has stepped back into the studio yet again to release her latest record “Still On My Mind”. Dido is typically a solo artist, writing music to emphasize her ability to pour her heart into singing, and this album is no different.
One of the first things to notice going into this album is the reliance on electronic elements instead of acoustic instruments. You’ll hear the occasional acoustic guitar or piano in tracks like “Walking By” or “Have to Stay”, but more of the album is built on a synthesizer/sequencer foundation to create the sound that she performs over. This is where I feel the competence of the production shines through, because the blends and sounds never overlap or overcomplicate this atmosphere that she’s singing over. The feeling of passion in the song “Hurricanes” drops you right into an electronic piece of art that has Dido soaring right over it. The production on her voice is very effective, it almost feels raw with touches of reverb. In the track “Hell After This” she sounds like she’s sharing a room with you and it has a level of intimacy that adds to the feeling of the song. In the song “Friends”, there’s a lot of electronic elements supporting her, and they never fail to sound tight and excellent. All the production focus went into building an effective supporting sound around her voice, and the electronic elements have no low points anywhere in this record.
It’s hard not spend a lot of time talking about Dido’s voice and her singing and her techniques in this record. Dido really shines above many singers in the both the pleasantry and raw feeling that she’s able to put into her voice. In many of her songs, she makes use of a chorus effect to competently blend both her low and high range, creating a more crowded atmosphere and giving her more presence. Whenever she reaches into her high range it’s always soft and passionate, never shrill or unpleasant. This is not easy to achieve when there’s so much emphasis on your singing in the production. One of my favorite tracks “Some Kind of Love”, her vocals feel very raw and exposed. There feels like there was little done to touch up her voice in the production, and it really adds to the emotion of this song. She thrives in her more somber and melancholic compositions, and she’s always stricken me as a good artist to put on during a rainy day.
Littered throughout this review, I’ve made a lot of references and points about the production of the sound. This is without a doubt one of the most competently produced records I’ve listened to recently, the cohesion and the ability to blend acoustic and electronic elements without loss of focus or overcomplication is nothing short of impressive. I am in love with the synth and disco sounds used to build a mesmerizing atmosphere for Dido to sing over.
There’s not a lot to be said about this excellent album besides how well it connected with me as a listener and how much heart went into it. I think that if you turn this album on and kick back, you will feel the same way. Dido has had a wonderful career so far, and with how this album sounded, I’m excited to see where she finds herself in the future.
Favorite Tracks: Hurricanes, Some Kind of Love, Take You Home, Chances
Least Favorite Tracks: N/A