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Review: Estelle - 'True Romance'

Updated on October 7, 2016

Following 2012’s ‘All of Me’ – and a subsequent trilogy of EP's entitled ‘Love & Happiness’ – west London born, US based R&B singer/songwriter Estelle independently releases fourth album ‘True Romance’ via her Established 1980 Records imprint.

With the support of often flawless production, the 35-year-old barges confidently through a number of different genres on the new LP.

However, because Estelle is a comparatively humble, personality-light singer, the combined strength of her vocal presence and lyrical ability isn't always enough to make 'True Romance' really spark.

A handful of tunes on the record suffer from a simple lack of clout, while others require extra creative flourishes in order to catch fire.

The irrepressible single ‘Make Her Say (Beat It Up)’ commands attention and stands out from the rest of the tracklisting.

However, it can’t climax due to the lack of a more obvious passion, a missing X-Factor.

Estelle just doesn’t give the impression that she craves what she says she does on the track and because of that, ‘Make Her Say (Beat It Up)’ can sound like an exhausted imitation of more renowned material from the pop-porn genre.

The positive messages heard within the lyrics of ‘Conqueror’ are easy to be inspired by.

However again, the tune can feel like an indistinct replica of recent chart fodder – that being said, Estelle does manage to impact with vigor on the song’s hook.

A photo posted by @estelledarlings on Feb 20, 2015 at 2:04pm PST
A photo posted by @estelledarlings on Feb 20, 2015 at 2:04pm PST | Source

The paced, hip-hop/trap elements introduced on ‘Time Share (Suite 509)’ are interesting.

Still, because the tune lacks a robust melodic core, a nucleus, the song’s concepts can’t rise above its general lacklustre to make any sort of statement.

Lamenting her more mindless romantic decisions, the smooth, luxurious production heard on ‘Silly Girls’ doesn’t prevent the track from drifting, and despite it’s spirited title, ‘Fight For It’ revolves around nothing in particular and ultimately goes the same way.

On the other hand, the forlorn vocals that glide over the demanding beatwork of mood-setter ‘The Same’ are compelling and ‘Something Good’ is an energetic dance highlight that communicates a real appreciation for the 90’s club scene it’s so vibrantly inspired by.

Generating more excitement than many of the cuts that surround it, and with the assistance of crisp, high quality backing vocals, it’s rewarding to hear stronger, more purposeful delivery from Estelle towards the end of the impassioned, soulful ‘Gotcha Love’.

The star is sincere and likeable on the reggae-influenced ‘She Will Love’ and although not her typical genre, she shows no signs of discomfort within the funky house setting of highlight bonus track ‘Not Sure’.

The piano balladry of ‘All That Matters’ can feel predictable, however, the song is doused in appealing, balmy harmonies and features Estelle unpretentiously settled inside a relaxed, earthy vibe.

Verdict: *****5/10

A photo posted by @estelledarlings on Feb 21, 2015 at 4:32pm PST
A photo posted by @estelledarlings on Feb 21, 2015 at 4:32pm PST | Source

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