Don't worry, Dido hasn't cheered up too much.
Advance reports that this British songwriter's fourth album, Girl Who Got Away, would be a "big, fun electronic extravaganza" were misleading. Dido is still a forlorn, sensitive ballad singer, still wondering, as she does in Blackbird, "Why do I bring you love/When all you give me back is pain?"
The electronics are there, however, and they lift the album's better songs out of the sad-sack zone. Girl revisits the fusion of folk-pop melodies and club beats that sold more than 28 million copies worldwide of Dido's first two albums.
Girl Who Got Away reunites Dido with Rollo Armstrong, her brother and the leader of the dark dance-pop group Faithless, as her main producer and songwriting partner. And their songs continue to long for solace.
Greg Kurstin, who has produced Pink and Kelly Clarkson, sends electropop keyboards percolating through the bitter kiss-off End of Night, and he supplies the moody, descending bass line and trip-hop backbeat in Happy New Year, which has the singer missing an ex who may be absent or dead.
Dido is no dance-pop belter; her sweet, small voice rarely escapes its underlying reserve, which can be soothing or merely dull. In the album's title song, synthesizer chords puff gentle syncopations as Dido wishes she could be "the girl who got away" -- less mousy and uptight, more passionate -- but doesn't expect much.
Dido wrote and largely recorded the album before the birth of her son in July 2011. But she found guests to keep her current, like Kendrick Lamar, whose vociferous rap tears through the conciliatory Let Us Move On. And in Day Before We Went to War, with keyboards from Brian Eno, Dido sets personal moping aside to come up with a genuine enigma: an eerily pretty vision of mass destruction.