Estelle — “All Of Me”

Estelle - "All Of Me"She’s a Lady
By Eric Webb

She’s as cool as they come, that Estelle.

She of “American Boy,” 2008’s greatest song about romance requiring frequent flyer miles, has returned with her third studio album, “All Of Me,” and brother, it is a confident album. Estelle knows herself very well, and her music sounds so thoroughly like her that she has completely earned the right to use a singular moniker.

Estelle’s specialized brand of crisp and breezy soul-infused hip hop is a constant treat, with enough exploration of different styles to keep things fresh with a clear, consistent voice tying the whole package together. I mean, I wish I was as confident and positive as Estelle. She’s the Fonzie of female rappers.

The original American Boy.

Estelle.

“This Is the Life” is a feel-good banger, with a pulsing, thumping beat that somehow elevates what could have been a run-of-the-mill materialistic rap. Appropriately, it has a little Kanye wafting in the air. A question: Really, who is the guy that says “yeah” in the background of every song ever these days? He’s all over Drake and Lana Del Rey‘s albums, and he’s probably the most influential man in music right now.

“Love the Way We Used To” is a quintessential Estelle cut, just slightly jazzy and melancholy with a torch song burn in the verses. The chorus is buoyant and hits all the sweet notes, and the lyrics have a wistful quality straight out of a 1930s musical revue: “No I’m not getting misty/And no you cannot kiss me/Though I might not mind.”

Slow jam “Cold Crush” evokes Sade through and through, which I think Estelle would take as a compliment. The whole album is an examination of the different places we find ourselves in love, whether conflicted or joyous. Here, it’s a forbidden passion, and Estelle warbles through all the pain. “Break My Heart” offers another take, with a feature from Rick Ross that goes a long way toward providing a little texture. The Teflon Don’s grit contrasts well with our gal’s light, slinky urban soul — sweet and salty. Estelle’s crooning has a tangible sadness here.

“All Of Me” gets chirpy in its back half, led by “Wonderful Life.” It sounds like a Macy Gray song drizzled in honey, with any rough edges polished off. Really, it’s a sunny, bouncy, lovely soul-pop number. Make some pancakes while you listen to this. “Back to Love” is strings! Strings! Strings! More than any other track, this one tells the story of the album.

“Speak Ya Mind” is a dancehall treasure, but it has the disadvantage of preceding the sublime “Do My Thing,” featuring Janelle Monae (who, it has to be said, picks great projects to work on). In a titanically empowering doo wop crowd-pleaser, the two chanteuses’ styles blend perfectly. Toes will tap.

The only misfire on the entire album is the Chris Brown/Trey Songz-featuring “International.” Not only is it redundant after “This Is the Life,” but Estelle can do so much better than the lowest common denominator. Her songbird lilt gives the track a little mileage, but it’s such blatant club pandering that it feels entirely false. Trey Songz is useless, Breezy is Breezy, and the only two redeeming factors are Estelle rapping the word “hashtag” and the way she calls Songz “Trigga,” which is patently adorable.

A series of candid, conversational skits is peppered throughout the album, with production assistance from ?uestlove. There’s not a whole lot to say about them, but they do reinforce the message of the individual tracks and serve their purpose admirably. “Blue Skies” in particular elicited a guffaw or three.

Estelle has crafted a clear-eyed, engaging album with a song for every season. With remarkable consistency, “All Of Me” keeps its head on its shoulders.

Eric’s Picks
(4) “Love the Way We Used To”
(10) “Wonderful Life”
(12) “Back to Love”
(15) “Do My Thing”

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About mattneric

We like music.
This entry was posted in Eric's Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Estelle — “All Of Me”

  1. “She’s the Fonzie of female rappers” — oh my God, I almost choked when I read that. SO true!

    😉

  2. GoodbyeNavi says:

    I remember going to a free Estelle concert. It was probably the most fun I had ever had; not to mention I got to meet John Legend. She had a great personality for the crowd and was full of energy.

  3. Awesome review Eric and love the style of your blog 🙂 I haven’t yet picked up Estelle, but will do rather soon after reading 😉
    Peace,
    Thomasena

  4. Tom Baker says:

    I’m not a fan of rap but I love Sade so I will check out Estelle.

  5. blackshepherd says:

    yeah…but will she sing for free? Never again now…you know how that goes….did you know that for every girl out there that sings for big money there are 101 (on average still out there that are just as good or better? It’s a closely guarded secret that allows others to buy suits…even if they’re hip hop “suits’ cause now a days a suit is a suit if it’s 10 times more expensive then what the people wear who have to buy tickets….see how that works now? You can actually go to school for it if it doesn’t come naturally to you….but you’ll get in for free cause you lathered her up so well….but don’t count on it…..

  6. stayc96 says:

    Enjoyed yur blogshes pretty dope!

  7. Byron B says:

    I’m so proud of Estelle (as if I know her). She’s not even from Souff London, but it’s like she the next door neighbour who went for her dream and became a superstar. Well done girl!

    • Totally agree with you on that one! It’s nice to have a representation of urban acts in the UK in the US. It goes to show that there is talent outside of the U.S borders. Also, she is not manurafctured either, bringing true authenticity to Hip Hop and R’n’B

  8. Raaj Trambadia says:

    Wow !! Thanks for sharing the lovely details about all the tracks in the album. Gr8 post guys 😀 Cheers

    And please check out my latest post – http://raajtram.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/i-me-myself/

    And even my new PhotoBlog – http://raajclicks.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/oh-i-love-my-laptop/

  9. I love her music, she is one of a kind.

  10. ashazenzi says:

    great post. having listened to the whole album i agree with 98% of your take on it. just one question, female rapper?

    • mattneric says:

      I mean, she raps on at least a couple tracks on this album, and more on her previous stuff. But I suppose the female modifier isn’t necessary. 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!

  11. moneymakingjus says:

    “All Of Me” was a good album from Estelle. Great review brother!!!!!!!!

  12. moneymakingjus says:

    Reblogged this on thehiltonburnellfiles.

  13. jvlivs says:

    Gr8 post Ndeed. I’m gonna check it out on YouTube when I get off work. She was featured in Jet magazine not too long ago.

  14. jjgroove01 says:

    I really like her, she so unique.
    jjgroove01

  15. Estelles’ voice is a refreshing change to the music we hear of late. Your blog entry of her is spot on.

  16. ” I really want to come kick it with you, you’ll be my American boy! American Boy!” That’s one of my favorite songs ever!

  17. Wes B. says:

    The Fonzie of female rappers? I absolutely love that line. 😄

    You sir, are a very gifted writer. I really enjoyed reading this music review, and I look forward to when you post again.

    I really love listening to this artist though. As others have mentioned, she is a very unique and creative person. I have listened to the entire album, and I fell in love with it.

  18. evanaline says:

    Great post, really like this, and I totally agree.

  19. mjharvell says:

    “The Fonzie of female rappers!” – What a line? Very cool! Thanks!

  20. Taryn Williamson says:

    I love Estelle ❤
    She is a gorgeous singer and quite an inspiration.
    ~Taryn 🙂

  21. Reblogged this on Mydreamalive.com : Inspiration for those with a dream and commented:
    Estelle – “All of Me”, brings back the classic soul sound and enables music lover’s all over the world to experience “life” music. We need more artists to embrace the music AND the lyrics…we need both!

  22. The Other Me says:

    Estelle is bad! UK!!!!
    Very well written and thought out review by the way! Nothing cut and paste about this!

  23. osmanjaan says:

    i love that good collection you have

  24. mutheu says:

    didn’t even know that Estelle has a new album out so thanks to you – now i know! And your review actually makes me pretty certain that as soon as it is available here, i’ll be getting a copy. Really looking forward to here the new stuff! (have 2 of her last albums.) So from Kenya – thanks for the review! Influential!

  25. phillybookpicks says:

    Love your blog , I am bookmarking it . Check out my new children’s and dog lovers book, Take care !

    http://astore.amazon.com/bernadine-20/detail/0557090415

  26. SomerEmpress says:

    I love the language that you use to describe the sounds and feelings associated with Estelle’s music: “…drizzled with honey”; “…melancholy with a torch song burn”; “…sunny, bouncy”.

    Great music deserves that kind of finesse. I’m a late-blooming fan of Estelle! Her swagger, confidence, and her “I’m a lady and I got this” poise is classy, refreshing and sets her apart from the non-singers that have got more treasures than talent.

    Guess what I’ll be doing whilst making my Saturday morning pancakes? Yep, you guessed it! 🙂 Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, Matt n Eric!

  27. Sophia says:

    Love Estelle!!! She is bringing back REAL muzic

  28. Anytime a person can step out of a stereotype and become mainstream is something to celebrate about. She is great and we all need to be thinking how we can perceive beauty differently than what the media tells us.

  29. pdjsue says:

    You are indeed a gifted writer. Keep up the terrific work!

  30. realist emil says:

    verry goodsite and content

  31. tiffy4love says:

    I loved your review. Your writing is beautiful. I will definitely be reading more reviews from you guys. =)

  32. bestweddingdressforyou says:

    i like her too, i like your writing !

  33. Adilene says:

    Really nice way of writing, I could learn a-lot from you haha 🙂
    But anyways I agree, Estelle is a very good and talented artist… I should really buy this album 😛

  34. American Boy is a modern classic… nice write up.

  35. Thom Topham says:

    Excellent writing about a very relevant and talented UK artiste.

  36. epibee says:

    Thanks for bringing her new album to my attention. I was afraid she might turn out to be a one hit wonder, but the new tracks sound great!

  37. nmbpro says:

    Nice, I love your description of the tracks.

  38. The Wonders of My World... says:

    estelle’s cd sort of disappointed me, i was definitely looking for more tracks and not that many interludes, so I was not that satisfied, don’t get me wrong, i was satisfied, but not that satisfied.

  39. Majesty ENT! says:

    Reblogged this on Majesty ENT! and commented:
    Nice Post From Mattneric.. Check It Out..

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