Rewind: Dido's petal-soft voice and sweetly melancholy songs have earned her a pair of multiplatinum albums, No Angel (1999)—featuring her worldwide hit "Thank You"—and Life for Rent (2003).
Fast-forward: In a first for the English singer-songwriter, Dido plays most of the instruments on her new CD, Safe Trip Home (Arista). "Before, I would write a song on guitar, and then somebody else would play guitar on the record—you lose a bit of the original feeling," she says. "It feels more coherent now. And learning to play the drums was a huge amount of fun."
Play it again: Dido crafts her everyday playlist as a sommelier would, carefully matching music to experience. "I'll save a song to listen to at a certain time in the day, or a certain place," she says. We asked her to share her favorite vintages.
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar): "You put this record on and start seeing pictures. It creates a mood instantly, and sustains it. It's got a folky vibe, and it was all made in a cabin in Wisconsin. A beautiful record."
Carole King, Tapestry (Columbia): "This is the ultimate album for me. Every song is simple and enduring. When I meet people who say they aren't familiar with Tapestry, I say, 'You know everything on this record; you just don't know that you know.'"
Neville Brothers, Yellow Moon (A&M): "When I was young, my brother got me 10 CDs for my birthday—my first-ever albums, and this was one of them. It's an odd mix of styles; I love the melodies and Aaron Neville's voice, and it reminds me of my teenage years and my brother and why the two of us love music."
Brian Eno, Another Green World (Astralwerks): "I was drawn into this album one day when I was driving through the desert around L.A. It was sunset, and I had one of those moments when it's as though your skin is on fire and you can see everything clearly."