Not every pioneer is a swashbuckler. Dido Armstrong, the hit-making British singer-songwriter, has a gentle voice that recalls backyard birdsong and a Jane Austen-like grasp of everyday heartache and perseverance. She helped change pop, however, when she agreed to let the rapper Eminem sample her 1999 song "Thank You" in what became his monster hit "Stan." Since then, calm feminine voices paired with florid male rappers' declamations have become a permanent fixture on the Top 40.
Now Dido is back, releasing her fourth studio album in March, and leading off with this vigorous track featuring current rap favorite, Kendrick Lamar, who like Eminem is a member of Dr. Dre's Aftermath label. Produced by Dido and her brother Rollo Armstrong with Jeff Bhasker, "Let Us Move On" has the fractured gloss of a Kanye West track and a message of realistic hope that fits with Dido's previous music. Lamar revs the song's engine with a rhyme that starts out quietly and rises like a temperature. "Got these burdens under my wings, but I'm still free," he admits, before taking his final flight. Then Dido comes back to help us ride out the journey.