Like many people, I first learned about Tina Dico through listening to Zero 7. That group — a sort of modern-day trip-hop Alan Parsons Project — enlisted a handful of guest vocalists to front their romantic, chilled out songs. Along with Sia Furler, Tina Dico’s sultry voice was the female face of Zero 7 for a while.
But Dico maintained a solo career all along as well. Welcome Back Colour is a roundup of Dico’s best material. Spanning two CDs, the set showcases Dico’s adult-pop music. The first disc — subtitled “Welcome Up” sets forth her more upbeat material. Rocking dance beats predominate, but this is far from soulless dancefloor vapidity. Dico’s subtle Danish accent is just evident enough to add an interesting dimension to the vocals. Her clear and steady voice lends itself to overdubbing, so hearing multiple Tinas is a pleasing experience.
Not all of the material on the first disc is rock-oriented, though. “Nobody’s Man” brings Dico’s folk roots to the fore. A sweeping arrangement and a vibe not miles removed from KT Tunstall equal a tune that will lodge itself in the listener’s memory. Just the right amount of soul-searching aesthetic coupled with a hooky melody: that’s the recipe on many of Dico’s songs. Everything on Welcome Back Colour save one or two tracks was written by Dico; some with collaborators, most without.
As Dico notes in her liner notes, the song “One” gained her a lot of exposure when it was featured on an episode of the primetime soap opera Grey’s Anatomy. Dico is one of many artists who has learned that getting a spot for one’s song on a TV show can help with the whole commercial-breakthrough thing. The lesser-known tracks hold up equally well, though: the dark bridge of “On the Run” is a highlight. The piano and string arrangement on “Count to Ten” drip heartbreak and regret.
The second disc (“Welcome Down”) is a decidedly more intimate affair; many of the tracks feature Dico’s voice, acoustic guitar and little else. But they provide plenty of texture. While the chill-down factor is much more pronounced, it’s every bit as compelling as the first disc, just in a different way. Zero 7’s “Home” is here, but nothing else from When it Falls. Dico is confident enough of her own solo material that she feels little need to rely on her guest appearances to fill this collection. Her a cappella break on “Room With a View” shows her at her most emotionally naked and vulnerable; it’s a rare example of a lump-in-the-throat recorded moment.
It’s impressive that Dico can compile a two-disc set of high quality material that covers a fairly brief period; the earliest tracks on Welcome Back Colour date from 2001, and the set is weighted toward more recent tracks (including a number of previously unreleased songs).
Welcome Back Colour is that rare sort of album that offers at least a little something for most listeners; it’s the kind of set that two people with few common musical interests can still enjoy.
Note: at press time the album is out only in Europe; USA street date is February 1 2011.
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