To keep it 100 underscore underscore emoji, I did not maintain a particularly strong opinion of Dido prior to this moment.
I can recall the biggest hits when I look through her discography, somehow unconsciously tucked away in my brain from her pop culture omnipresence over the years, like “White Flag,” “Thank You” and “Here With Me” – more songs than I thought I knew of, actually. And of course, we, the rabid collective of online fanbases, are eternally indebted to her for co-birthing the term “Stan” with Eminem. But beyond that, I just didn’t have much of a relationship to Dido. Until now, apparently.
When I gave a first listen to “Hurricanes,” the first offering from Still On My Mind, her first new album in five years, I don’t know what I was expecting exactly – but I was floored.
There’s something special about “Hurricanes.” It’s a skeletal production – at first, anyway – as her voice drifts along on a lonesome, barely-there guitar riff and the faintest of beats sputtering in the background. But the song itself is arresting from the very first line.
“I want to wake up with your weight by my side, and I want to think that you look good as you rise.”
It’s so simple, yet so deeply romantic – especially this poetic line, which makes me miss my nonexistent boyfriend terribly: “I want to see you as you walk through the door, and time will make us some ways less, and some ways more.”
As the song goes on, she braces for impact to weather life’s storms, literally and figuratively: “Let me not turn away from happiness or pain. Just not to run away in my heart and in my head. Let me face hurricanes,” she pledges.
Then, as if to illustrate her point, the song takes a dive midway through, quite unexpectedly, into a sea of electronica as she howls through the sound. (“Hurricanes!“) Eventually, she makes her way through to the opposite side – and into complete, calming silence.
“Let me face the sound and fury. Let me face hurricanes,” she repeatedly declares as the song draws to an end.
Perhaps this is projection, as a person of the Internet bombarded by media at every waking millisecond, but the song at least partially feels like commentary on the noisiness of modern life. “I want to talk of nothing as the world passes by and I want to think, but not to say.” How gorgeous. How wise. Say less. Think more. Soldier onward. What a concept.
Even the song’s production itself – and the ample room to breathe throughout – is so soothing, especially in a time of streaming-friendly bops that barely reach the 3-minute mark.
I was trying to think of another song as similarly captivating, and Sia‘s lump-in-throat masterpiece, “Breathe Me,” was the one that came to mind first. (Consider that a massive compliment.)
Still On My Mind, due out in March of next year, is Dido’s fifth album, and was recorded in England alongside her brother and longtime collaborator, Rollo: “It was simple. I only wanted to make another album if it was with him. It was made in such an easy way; all the vocals recorded on the sofa, a lot of it recorded at home,” she says.
The album promises to range from “her love of hip-hop to her folk foots, but ultimately the entire record carries a dance and electronic music sensibility, even on the tracks with no beats.”
“I wanted to capture the feeling I still get from listening to music, just that rush like you don’t need anything more than this,” she said of the record.
Consider myself a very belated Dido stan – she did help conceive the very concept, after all.
And as a side note, Madonna‘s MDNA album cover will see this single cover in court. (Kidding. Don’t come for me.)
“Hurricanes” was released on November 15. (iTunes)
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