[Three and a half stars]
Somewhere along the way between Leonna Lewis and Amerie, R&B lost its direction. But now its back on track, and its carrying a whole lotta sass along with it .Estelle’s here, and she’s gonna “Take you on a ride like a rollercoaster”, or so she claims on the album’s super energetic kick off -”˜Wait a Minute (Just A Touch)’ . This feisty little ditty is followed by the ingenious concoction – ”˜No Substitute Love’- a 60s style jazzy reggae-y chorus fused with 80s George Michael lyrics and an all out 21st century hip hop diva assault. The retro meets hip hop fusion is felt further downÂ the album as well, especially on the track ”˜More Than Friends’,Â as she declaresÂ ”˜I’m not your weekend love, your secret fuck, brother I’m not playing’, all sung to a gentle lounge-y piano background. Support is provided by friends all through the album, with appearances from John Legend, Kardinal Offishall and even Kayne West on ”˜American Boy’, a radio friendly clubby hip hop tune which hit #1 on the UK charts.Â The highlight of the album however is when she channels her inner Diana Ross with shockingly accurate results on her duet with Cee-Lo on ”˜Pretty Please(Love Me)’. Yes Estelle has taken her musical career to a whole new level, and she’s managed to fill the hole that Lauren Hill left when she disappeared from the music world.