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Estelle: Shine (2008) March 11, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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Estelle: Shine

Estelle: Shine

I’m a long way from being an expert on current pop R&B, so I first heard of Estelle as one of the rising British pop stars following the trails blazed by Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, along with Duffy and Adele. That does Estelle a great injustice. She’s been around for a few years and she’s a rapper as well as a singer. Shine may be a crossover bid, and there’s a song or two here that’ll catch the Amy fans’ ears and one or two there for the Lily fans, but this is really the arrival of a confident new voice who doesn’t need the comparisons.

The album starts with “Wait a Minute (Just a Touch),” pop R&B with rapped verses and sung choruses, but the next track, the more soulful “No Substitute Love,” has Estelle singing the whole song and doing it well. There’s a bit of a retro feel here that may account for some of the Amy Winehouse comparisons; it also appears on a few more songs.

Estelle’s stylistic range becomes clear pretty quickly, thanks to the summery reggae feel of “Magnificent,” featuring Canada’s own reggae-influenced rapper Kardinal Offishall; this is one of the obvious entry points for Lily Allen fans.

“Come Over” is a straight-up lovers rock song, a nice bit of pure pop reggae. That’s followed by the hiphop/dancehall mix of “So Much Out the Way,” the upbeat pop R&B of “In the Rain”… Oh, yeah, and there’s that big international hit song, too, the catchy dance duet with Kanye West, “American Boy.”

Shine has a lot of producers, a lot of styles (rap, R&B, soul, old school reggae, dancehall, etc), and a lot of guest stars, but it flows really well, and is entertaining from beginning to end. If more of the pop music in the charts could be as good as this, I might not spend as much time listening to obscure stuff.

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