It’s been nearly eight years since West London born soul singer/rapper Estelle hit the scene with her debut album, The 18th Day, before moving across the pond and releasing Shine, which included the Grammy-winning “American Boy” three and a half years later. Now, nearly four years after that, Estelle releases her most personal body of work to date with All of Me.
Initially set to be released in 2010, All of Me was then said to include the Kardinal Offishall-assisted “Freak” and “Fall in Love”, but, in a recent blog post, Estelle revealed she followed her management’s advice after her “boyfriend turned out not to be the man I thought he was” to “go remember why it is you love music and wanted to make music”, taking time to create an album that allows you to hear, see and feel what she was going through.
♫ Estelle – International (Serious) (ft. Chris Brown & Trey Songz)
All of Me is a throwback to a time when R&B musicians actually told a story with their music. For the most part, each track could have easily been recorded years ago, but that’s not to say the album is dated; the album is authentic. It starts off quite rap-heavy with “The Life” and “International (Serious)”, which features Chris Brown and Trey Songz, who even tries his hand at rapping, before settling into the more retro-soul sound of “Love the Way We Used To” or the ’80s-esque “Cold Crush”, which would make for a great summer jam.
♫ Estelle – Wonderful Life
The album’s new lead singles, “Break My Heart” (featuring Rick Ross) and “Thank You”, are placed perfectly in the middle of the album as it transitions from the sounds of heartbreak to brighter days and good riddance. “Back to Love” and “Wonderful Life” are great pick-me-ups with Estelle proclaiming “I’m much clearer now than I’ve ever been” on the former and “Hey, I’m winning today / my smile is okay at the end of the line / and I’m fine, no thorns in my side / somebody remind me it’s a wonderful life” in the latter.
♫ Estelle – Do My Thang (ft. Janelle Monáe)
The album closes at 38 minutes with the sense of independence on the aptly titled “Speak Ya Mind” and “Do My Thang”, which unites Estelle with Janelle Monáe. With conversational interludes on life and love and a named mention on “Speak Ya Mind” (“I just want them to pull out ‘The Miseducation’ again”), some may say All of Me bears resemblance to Lauryn Hill’s 1998 debut album, but this album is all Estelle: a solid effort detailing what she’s been dealing with the last few years and offering a glimpse of what’s to come.