For an artist whose fame came from “American Boy” with Kanye West, one would think that her work would be cut out for her. It isn’t as easy as it might sound, though, considering that the singer would be forced to make it as a solo artist. In her third album, All of Me, Estelle shows off what makes her a genuine artist on her own with a variety of tones to accent her eclectic style.
Estelle invites Chris Brown and Trey Songz onto her track “International (Serious)” at the beginning of her set, but it almost didn’t matter what names she dropped into the mix. The song is common and clouded with effects.
Listeners get a taste of what’s good soon, though. The British songstress finally slows down when she hits the third track, “Love The Way We Used To,” which is romantic and reminiscent. Estelle sounds her finest when she slows down and shows off her vocal ability and soft R&B tone.
Estelle’s difficulty selling singles “Freak” and “Fall In Love” before the release of All of Me ultimately led to the decision for the two to be omitted from the final composition of the album. Though the sales might have been disappointing, her team should take it as a blessing: Both “Freak” and “Fall In Love” are great songs, but neither would fit the flow of Estelle’s latest output. Her final track list is complete and well-rounded. Each song has a place, and neither of her leading singles would have helped fill them out.
“Back To Love,” on the other hand, is a fun single to put out in the meantime. The song is upbeat as well as light and catchy.
It’s not clear why All of Me chooses to fill space between tracks with strange conversational clips. Each is nearly a minute long and features a poorly recorded sort of argument between people or a monologue by a woman, presumably Estelle, all atop a neutral hip-hop beat. They occur about five times throughout the compilation and unfortunately contribute nothing to the overall effect of the album. They deter from the flow of the album and confuse whatever idea of a concept was present.
With a name like All of Me, it’s hard to tell what Estelle had in mind for a concept – no inhibitions, no reservations, an eclectic mix? – but regardless, it provides a home for some very well-made songs.
Closer track “Do My Thing” makes the whole experience worthwhile. The snappy beats propel each lyric and melody to a rousing success at the end of Estelle’s album. It’s a non-stop celebration of music that brings together vintage and modern sounds as well as an interesting forge of soul and R&B with hip-hop all at once. The record alone is a great mix of styles that Estelle could have slayed herself, but since the talents of Janelle Monae were implemented, everything is heightened. Monae’s verse is something to listen to closely.
One would think that a solo album would focus on her vocal ability, but that isn’t true in the case of All of Me. The album doesn’t rely on Estelle’s voice in order to succeed like so many others in her field attempt to do. It is the right combination of good production and an ear for good music that allows her third studio album to stand for itself as a collection of great work.