Not only is Dido the sister of Rollo (the main guy behind the Faithless releases Reverence and Sunday 8PM), but she's now a solo artist on her own, showcasing her vocals (that were often used as nothing more than backing on Faithless tracks) trying to carve out a niche of her own. As one could expect from hearing the very accesible electronic sounds of her other group, No Angel sounds like it would fit into a fairly mainstream market, with a most noticible resemblence to Sarah Mclachlan with a touch less of an organic sound.
The first track actually starts out in a more interesting way for the first minute or so with its gurgling electronics and a subtle backbeat. Dido's voice drifts nicely over everything, but soon the pop craftmanship comes back into the picture fully with some acoustic guitar strumming and a more steady beat. Eventually, the whole track picks up with a flourish of strings, and so does the singing. It's actually one of the more moving tracks on the album with a sing-along chorus and very nice vocals. Unfortunately, the next two tracks have almost the same beat structure exactly, and although they do some different things lyrically, they're just not different enough to not blur into one another. Fortunately, that formula ends on the stripped-down fourth track "My Lover's Gone." With only some quiet guitars and some more interesting drumming, the track is more of a vocal highlight than anything else, and again shows that Dido's voice has an uncanny resemblence to Mclachlan. It's a quiet, prety track, and a a good changeup from the first three.
On "ThankYou," a bit of Latin influence makes its way into the track and again adds a little bit of a different sound to the album, while "Honestly OK" plays around with more electronic blips and bleeps and a bigger beat than any other track on the release. The ninth track entitled "Isobel" (one of two tracks with the same name as a Bjork song) plays with more interesting drumming and it does the song a great service. One thing about the release is that when the vocals come into play, they're always front and center. If you're one who doesn't like standard verse-chorus-verse song structure and female vocals that are always the key element when they're in the track, this probably isn't the release for you.
I hate to mention the name again, but if you like Sarah Mclachlan, I don't think that you're going to go wrong with this release. As mentioned above, some of the tracks have a bit more of an electronic edge to them, but the songs are well crafted and Dido proves that she has a good enough voice to do something other than backup singing in her brothers ethno-techno group. The tracks that work the best are the ones that don't stick the canned-beat, acoustic guitar formula, and although even the most interesting tracks don't sound like anything that wouldn't be heard on a mainstream station, it's also not bad by any means.