English singer Estelle has a distinct ability to project a relaxed confidence no matter the mood or musical style. Whether tackling R&B, reggae, rap or pop, her voice swoops and glides with such pitch-perfect, unrestrained ease, it's hard to doubt her intentions.
Best known for hooky pop hit American Boy, she owns the mid-tempo on her long-delayed third LP, with the glistening 80s synth-funk-style Cold Crush (produced by Toronto duo Book & Bronze), the lovelorn lament Thank You and the lushly glamorous Break My Heart.
If dialogue skits backed by light, jazzy percussion aren't a blunt enough nod to The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, Estelle states her affinity for that landmark work with a shout-out over Speak Ya Mind's boom-bap beat. Although All Of Me shares that record's fervour, it lacks its cohesiveness due to a few forgettable pop turns, namely ho-hum hype track International (Serious) with R&B heartthrobs Chris Brown and Trey Songz, and the cluttered, exasperating soul clapper Do My Thang, a duet with label mate Janelle Monáe.
Top track: Break My Heart