Review Summary: Estelle surrounds herself with a sound she has proved to be on another level than, and that sound is a predictable mainstream sound littered with predictable collaborations. She doesn't aim high on this one.
Reggae flavored English R&B singer/rapper Estelle seems to have found herself in-between a rock and a hard place after her sophomore LP.
She saw much success in the mainstream pop world with her hit single “American Boy” off of her last album Shine, but that was 2008, and to this day it has been her only notable single on the charts, and one-hit-wonder status seems to be looming over her name with each passing year. However, if she conforms to be more poppy in her music like Rihanna to avoid this fate, she is in danger of loosing her roots.
Not going for a more poppy sound would be easier if she wasn’t so associated with a big pop hit that featured a big mainstream name such as Kanye West, so Estelle decides to compromise on All of Me by keeping her mature and developed power of hip hop and R&B married with Reggae in her person and voice, but all the while surrounding herself with a more radio ready sound featuring well-known guests in pop rap such as Chris Brown, Trey Songz and Rick Ross, to raise attention to the album, and further drive home the more pop approach while still appeasing somewhat of a hip hop feature.
The big problem with All of Me, is that the music surrounding Estelle’s performance is on a notably lower and much less powerful level than her. This is song setup and arrangement that one would expect Katy Perry to inhabit it is so uninspired and safe. Estelle’s love of both rapping and belting out R&B harmonies overpowers the music it’s contained within so easily, that the music at times can come off at times to be nothing more than a sort of filler used solely so Estelle could have backing beats.
Being a quaint 41 minutes long, this album is just like any other of the hundreds of contemporary R&B albums released in the 21st Century. The Chris Brown and Trey Songz collaboration ”International (Serious)” does not convince a valid reason for it’s placement on this album well, other than it was just conceived for the reason of being a pop song just like the other countless songs Chris and Trey Songz have done with female vocalists, as it doesn’t bring Estelle in any new direction or reveal anything different or interesting about any of the participating artists.
Overall, Estelle has made a pop album, at the cost of putting herself in an album she has previously proven to be far superior to. The result is a step back into territory where her talent and uniqueness is out of context in her surroundings.