Monday 12 March 2012

Estelle - All Of Me

Hands up who can name an Estelle song other than American Boy?  Anyone?  Didn't think so.

And that's not to say her music is bad by any means, but Estelle is yet to see consistent chart success.  It's clear this has been on her mind throughout the creation of 'All Of Me' - she's literally laid all her cards on the table here in the hopes that one will provide a winning hand.  Hip-Hop?  RnB?  Pop?  Soul?  It's all there in an album that subsequently lacks cohesion.

It's also clear she's been spending a lot of time with those American boys, namely Kanye West.  His influence on the production is clear and as a whole, the album has an American feel that suggests Estelle has all but forgotten her London roots (despite referencing Tinie Tempah in the opening track).  

The main problem is the album's disjointedness.  Opening track The Life features Estelle rapping along to a blazing synth bass that initially indicates a darker, grittier change of pace.  This is followed by International (Serious), a collaboration with Chris Brown and Trey Songz that continues this hip-hop vibe.  Later tracks include the smooth, sexy Rihanna-lite Cold Crush, the pop-soul of Wonderful Life, and Speak Your Mind that steals the melody from Freak Like Me, much like Estelle did with Faith on No Substitute Love from her last album.  Though individually fine, these tracks don't hang together as the songs of one artist.  It's as if Estelle is desperate to cover every possible popular genre in the hopes of creating a hit, yet in the process pleases nobody.  What's worse are the insipid interview tracks interspersed throughout the album like voyeurs of a therapy session.  It's an attempt to provide an emotional thread, that ultimately shows up the clichéd lyrics of the songs.  Watching Jeremy Kyle or Loose Women would have a similar effect.

Other female artists have done these songs so much better before - from Rihanna, to Warner rivals Lianne La Havas and Janelle Monae, who joins in on final track Do My Thing.  It turns out to be the best track, Monae's funk essence finally injecting some fun and personality into an album of copycat tracks that don't allow Estelle to let her musical and personal voices be heard.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Do My Thing
* Cold Crush

Listen: 'All Of Me' is available now.

Watch: Estelle has no upcoming shows (as the lyrics of International would suggest...)