Saturday, 16 March 2013

QUIET FORCE: Vibing to solid new records from Stephanie and Dido

ESCAPE ARTIST: Staying true to her signature blend of haunting tunes and themes that run the gamut from loss and longing to heartache and healing, Dido's fantastic latest, Girl Who Got Away, is another worthy addition to a canon that includes such smashes as the chart-topping, award-winning Life for Rent. Given Dido's impressive track record, it's no surprise that this 14-track album features a succession of evocative, repeat-worthy gems. Best of all, lead-off single "No Freedom" (about walking away from a failed romance) is steeped in palpable melancholy, a vibe sustained on other cuts like the title track and the hip hop-spiked "Let Us Move On," which gets an appearance from new rap sensation Kendrick Lamar. "End of Night," meantime, offers a welcome reminder of the British star's poetic gifts and knack for confessional writing while "The Day We Went to War" speaks compellingly to that sense of regret in all of us. Tyrone's Verdict: A- 

AS I AM: "I'm not here for a day... I'm timeless," optimizes songbird Stephanie on her anthemic potential hit "Say My Name". Many don't know that this petite Jamaican powerhouse exists, as she herself readily admits, but all that could change thanks to the founding of Havatio Music, the indie record label she's started with hubby, Stephen, and the arrival of her debut EP, Real Woman, a slim but charmingly entertaining set that melds influences from the worlds of reggae-soul and contemporary R&B. If nothing else, the 7-track disc reveals a burgeoning talent possessed of melismatic singing chops (that recalls the likes of Mya) and emotional songwriting. While the title track smartly celebrates the essence of the do-it-all sister, other highlights include the aforementioned "Say My Name" (which gets slick verses from T.O.K.'s Bay-C and Benny Bwoy) and an acoustic rendering of her 2012 breakout single "Got It Right Here." Tyrone's Verdict: B

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