Dido - Life For Rent (2003)
Dido's powerful yet angelic voice is the centrepiece of Life For Rent
, and all of Dido's music for that matter. Aside from purely “Pop”, a genre is hard to define. I've been listening to this album today (I'm listening to it right now actually), and I think it is most closely related to the songs from The Chillout Sessions
compilations, for those of you familiar with them. I'd say Dido's music is essentially relaxed, even tranquil Pop music. Life For Rent
is certainly a 'relaxing' album, floating between positive, buoyant moments intertwined with mellow, serene songs. I believe that Dido writes the majority (if not all) of her lyrics, and is the major creative force behind her music.
Life For Rent
is basically music a lot of your parents would like to hear on a quiet Sunday afternoon. This is not to say it is 'bad' at all, just that this album pretty much has no “grunt”: Life For Rent
's got no balls whatsoever. Although not necessary for a decent Pop album, the fact that the album canters along at such a slow pace leads to many of the tracks blending into one. Despite the potential vagueness, you can't deny that Dido's vocals are at times unbelievably catchy. Sand In My Shoes
was in my head for weeks a few years ago when I first heard this album, and I still see it as one of the outstanding tracks on the album.
See You When You're 40
falls into the category of so much of Life For Rent
being almost too subtle for its own good. Without extending her voice, Dido's beatific vocals can linger just a touch too long, although it is not a change in vocals this album needs - as Dido is undeniably a very talented vocalist - but it's an occasional change in direction. A faster-paced, even Pop-Rock number would break up the uniformity of Life For Rent
, but one wonders whether Dido would suit anything other than what she currently offers up. Songs such as Who Makes You Feel
and Do You Have A Little Time
are quintessentially 'nice' songs, in need of a genuine climax. However, the album is essentially a mellow, serene 50 minutes and it's perhaps because I am fundamentally a Rock and Punk fan that I crave some more bite from Life For Rent
. Having said that, I can fully appreciate the genuinely first-rate songs on this album.
is probably the song you have heard from this album, and it reached #1 in Australia and #2 in Britain. It is the archetypal Pop love song, done well. Telling of her eternal devotion to what appears to be either an ex-boyfriend or an unrequited love, this is Dido-Pop at its best. 'White Flag' was always going to be the hit single from this album. Caught between uplifting and melancholy, the lyrics may perhaps be generic but will certainly strike a chord with a huge proportion of listeners. Everyone
can relate to unrequited love. The lingering, sedate piano complements the string-section backing, providing one of the most instrumentally-appealing tracks on the album. Life For Rent
seems to use all of its changes-of-pace in the first 10 minutes, but the smooth dance track Stoned
is a certain stand-out. The dulcet tones of Miss Armstrong combine with the polite electro-Dance beat to make 'Stoned' another undeniably 'nice' song. Inoffensive. There, that's probably one of the best ways to describe Dido Armstrong. Inoffensive yet not indistinguishable.
Life For Rent
was another single from its namesake but wasn't as successful as 'White Flag'. Some of the better lyrics on the album - despite being rather generic - the title track is a contemplative and reflective lyrical piece, primarily supported by the acoustic guitar that this album could have done with some more of. So on to my personal favourite track, the effervescent Sand In My Shoes
. Yet another love song, the relentless instrument part which I think is from a xylophone accompanies the catchiest chorus on the album. This track would certainly not sound out of place on a Chillout Sessions
CD and it captures that sentiment effortlessly. 'Sand In My Shoes', along with 'White Flag', drags this album above many of the contributions from Dido's contemporaries, and Life For Rent
confirms Dido's status as a genuinely talented, unassuming modern Pop artist.
Recommendations: White Flag, Sand In My Shoes, Stoned, Life For Rent