Estelle Shine

Estelle Shine
The endless months of "next best thing” web buzz — no doubt culminating in a lead-off single featuring guaranteed success bringer Kanye West — certainly assured that Brit R&B stalwart Estelle’s first North American release would get attention. But the singer/rapper/producer has seized on the moment expertly, dropping a record in Shine that does exactly that; it’s a disc that unites hip-hop, pop, R&B and reggae seamlessly, serving up jam after accessible jam in much the same way as Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation did a decade ago. Indeed, the comparisons to Lauryn come early on with "No Substitute Love,” as Estelle borrows from George Michael’s "Faith” melody to carry her layered vocal soul over a mid-tempo groove before tearing up the mic to close out the cut Floetry style. Kardinal Offishall lends his trademark patois flare to the old-time reggae vibe that begins with "Magnificent” and carries into the lover rock-fashioned "Come Over.” The singer rounds things out by tackling ’60s Motown with an increasingly typecast Cee-Lo on "Pretty Please,” wrapping up a record that threatens to add some serious R&B flavour to the current female Brit-soul invasion. (Atlantic)