It’s been four years since Estelle released her last album. After a few delays, the British songbird soars once again on her third album All of Me, featuring contributions from ChrisBrown, Trey Songz, Rick Ross, Janelle Monáe, John Legend, Akon, and Ne-Yo. Did the critics sing her praises? Find out below.
The New York Times: Estelle recalls the young Lauryn Hill at times: the gentle, loping “Thank You” is clear homage, and on “Speak Ya Mind,” Estelle sings, “I just want them to pull outThe Miseducation again,” referring to Ms. Hill’s debut. But the remainder of this album finds Estelle trying on familiar poses, or unfamiliar ones that vex.
USA Today: The British songbird’s latest album is full of catchy melodies, effervescent grooves and positive (but not preachy) messages, all delivered in a sunny, fluid voice that assures us that spring is just around the corner, literally and figuratively. 3.5/4
Entertainment Weekly: Touristy boasting doesn’t quite suit her. Fortunately, what follows does: feel-good soul-pop, melodic grrrl-power rhymes, and lush love songs that make even gruff guest Rick Ross sound like a romantic. B+
Rolling Stone: Estelle is the rare one-name diva whose main appeal is her approachability. It’s been four years since the round-the-way London girl’s breakthrough, Kanye-abetted hit, “American Boy,” but she’s still the same proud graduate of the Lauryn Hill/Mary J. Blige school of warm, tough hip-hop R&B. 3.5/5
Los Angeles Times: The Akon-penned single “Thank You” showcases Estelle’s ability to sound pushed to her limits but never broken. In a further testament to her skills, she somehow manages to make king pimp Rick Ross sound like a romantic on “Break My Heart.” 3/4
BBC: The lack of standout hits here is disappointing, but All of Me‘s Achilles heel is its conversational interludes. They’re not just dated and gratuitous, but also a knock-off from another record. By the time Estelle name-checks The Miseducation on the album’s penultimate track, the damage has been done. It’s already clear that All of Me isn’t in the same league as Lauryn Hill’s genre classic.
The Associated Press: Estelle’s album is a solid piece of work, and she proves that her “all” is more than enough.
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Cold Crush,” “Break My Heart,” “Wonderful Life,” “Do My Thing”