Estelle thinks outside the box - no gimmicks, no comparisons needed.
Maxine Headley 2008-03-27
Have you heard the one about Estelle being the new Lauryn Hill? Ridiculous, isn't it. Not because the British rapper/singer/songwriter lacks talent. More to do with others placing her in a box. It's reminiscent of the feedback from her debut album, 18th Day, which had unsure folk saying she was the next Missy Elliott and (or) the next Mary J Blige. Flattering as that may be, the music industry is often guilty too, of indolently placing tags on their artists to generate hype and validation, and in the hope that we buy by the bucket load. Truly, this is not necessary for Estelle Swaray's sophomore album.
With an attractive roaster of producers - Mark Ronson, Swiss Beats and Will.i.am, Shine released on John Legend's Homeschool label, gives us a glimpse of a young woman learning from the complexities of her relationships. With love as the core premise throughout, the album's backdrop boasts an exciting mix of musical influences from reggae to '60s soul, expressed on No Substitute Love which cunningly samples George Michaels Faith and Pretty Please (Love Me) featuring the distinctive high pitch of Cee-Lo, respectively. It is only in Wait A Minute (Just A Touch), that the childish, teasing banter contradicts the forward thinking in the following tracks.
Nevertheless, Come Over successfully lends itself to the Lovers Rock period while You Are proves why Estelle and John Legend work famously together.
The marvellous thing about Estelle is, although a heavy American influence is present on most of the album, she retains the British-ness, though terminology and accent much in the way the soul duo Floetry had done (oops, there goes the comparing again), without fear of alienating fans on either side of the Atlantic. The American Boy smash, which strangely recycles Will.i.am's recent Impatient track, not only has Estelle dropping Brit humour but even gets Kanyne saying, ''I heard your lyrics I feel your spirit. But I still talk that cash, cos a lot WAGS want to hear it''.
Estelle thinks outside the box - no gimmicks, no comparisons needed - and provides her own light…to shine.