Grammy award-winning British singer/songwriter Estelle plagued radio back in 2008 with her single American Boy, featuring none other than Yeezus himself, and the album from which it came (Shine) also did relatively well on international charts; since then the starlet released her third studio album All Of Me in 2012 to positive critical claim, and it became another commercial success for the singer. Currently voicing the character Garnett from the beloved animated Cartoon Network series Steven Universe, Estelle has managed to find time to record her fourth and latest album, True Romance.
Time After Time is a catchy RnB number informing your partner they are perfect, the “you, me, I, you” hook is repetitive and annoying after a little while though; second single Conqueror is layer upon layer of sophistication, the strings hum beautifully with the piano playing all the right keys, the chorus is a pop ballad explosion. Something Good/Devotion (Passion Interlude) wasn’t all that bad and sees Estelle experiment with a 90s dance influenced sound; lead single Make Her Say (Beat It Up) again is repetitive, a common theme on this album, and its sexual explicitness is really off putting. Some more blah can be heard throughout Time Share (Suite 509), it would make for some perfect background music, is Estelle sex crazy or something? The Same is ironically different from its predecessors, Estelle sings mostly in staccato (seperated notes) and the track overall is more bearable.
Fight For It is opened up by what sounds like dry retching and off key whistles, unfortunately the vocals don’t manage to save this frustrating effort; and for something more soulful and musical, Silly Girls is driven by its loud strings and smooth subtleness. Gotcha Love is another RnB/Soul number you can easily cope with, its piano part is wonderfully played and Estelle’s vocal is commendable; borderline reggae is experimented with in She Will Love and it makes for what could be the second most solid track on the album after Conquerors, if you haven’t experience catchy yet you will with this track. Piano ballad All That Matters is almost something to write home about, it doesn’t really go to places it could have and remains being close to bland; the iTunes bonus track Not Sure brings some dance beats to the table, a little more of this from Estelle please.
True Romance is more reminiscent of Estelle’s early days in her career with its experimental vibe and lack of over-the-top wow factor, it has become very clear that with the success of American Boy she was expected to become this mainstream chart superstar; the truth being that thus far she has remained a one-hit wonder on a global scale, perhaps her label executives were expecting too much. This album sure does stray from the mainstream, which on one hand is commendable as artists should be creating what they feel expresses their; on the other hand, it becomes frustrating for those who became fans after that one hit and are yearning for something upbeat and typical to what we hear everyday on the radio. The truth is that you can’t please everybody, True Romance wasn’t one hundred percent captivating and only has three or four tracks that were memorable, if it wasn’t so repetitive it could be enjoyed more thoroughly. Sorry Estelle.