Shine - Estelle (Atlantic Records)
Though Estelle claims that black women singers in the UK do not receive the level of promotion their white counterparts get, her sophomore album has already been certified silver and resulted in two successful singles. Backed by an impressive list of producers and collaborators including will.i.am, Swizz Beatz, Wyclef Jean, Kardinall Offishal, Mark Ronson, Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley and John Legend, Shine proves that Estelle is doing a fine job of attracting big names as well as big sales. If there were a Grammy for most entertaining liner notes, Estelle would certainly take home a shiny golden gramophone for Shine. Just like her music, her notes are deeply personal and speak to the listener. She doesn't try to be overly philosophical or unnecessarily sophisticated and in the process comes off as sincere and fun. She sings with her trademark West London drawl about relationships, men, infidelity, ambition and wet English summers. Combining R&B, jazz, rap and reggae, Estelle is set apart from the rest and carves a happy niche for herself. Buoyed by the success of the Kanye West-backed club rocker American Boy, Estelle proves she deserves to be on the list of British talent invading the rest of the world and fills a void left by neo-soul artists of yore.
Published: July 8, 2008 04:00 AM