Review: Estelle – Shine

by Winston "Stone" Ford

4.0 Stars

Poor Estelle. First, she had to endure constant pressures from the UK music industry, who didn’t know what do do with a prominent, female, dark-skinned Black entertainer. Then, she finally gets her big break in America and her record label pressures her to change her teeth as well as her short hair. It’s been a long 10 year ride for the chick from South London.

However, the pain and struggle have been worth it. Stalking John Legend and Kanye West in LA landed Estelle not only with a record deal, but a talented bevy of producers who have complimented her skills as a vocalist and an MC. Shine is a mature, female-focused album with a feisty, self-confident Brit at the helm.

The production on this album shines as much as the star. The standout track on the album is “You Are,” featuring John Legend. This playful, romantic duet…. Cee-Lo’s pretty please my love is a contemporary take on the old Motown standards, which sounds fresh, and not a blatant attempt to sound Retro. Tracks like “Come Over,” “Back In Love,” and the pop-sensible “American Boy,” that showcase Estelle’s vocal abilities as well as amazing production talent behind the boards.

Having all the said, Shine does have its faults. Although “Wait A Minute,” encompasses the type of person Estelle is about (loving yourself and saying no to sexual advances)’s production falls flat. And “Shine”, her “rap” track shows me that Ms. Swaray is a lot better vocalist than an MC.

Having that said, Shine is the best female R&B album to come out in a long time, and its slowly restoring my faith in the genre.