Album: Estelle

The 18th Day, V2
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

For about half its length - happily, the first half - The 18th Day bears out the promise of Estelle's life-affirming single "Free". Then it sinks into hackneyed R&B clichés - oozing boudoir-soul ("Maybe") and vocal histrionics ("Crazy"). Most annoying, "Hey Girl" and "All Over Again" feature the kind of reproachful duets that give the impression of hearing a couple arguing loudly at the next table in self-righteous talk-to-the-hand attitude and grating "yoof" diction. It's a pity, as the first half shows a perky, independent spirit and a distinctly British character that disdains the imported hip-hop tropes - the bling, the guns - rendering much UK R&B a pale imitation of its transatlantic cousin. On tracks such as "Change is Coming" and the Northern Soul stomper "Go Gone", Estelle hits out at the scene's cancerous pessimism and criminality, advocating self-reliance and determination: "From the age of 13 you've got the choices/ It's your life... / Don't let the past rule you, cho

For about half its length - happily, the first half - The 18th Day bears out the promise of Estelle's life-affirming single "Free". Then it sinks into hackneyed R&B clichés - oozing boudoir-soul ("Maybe") and vocal histrionics ("Crazy"). Most annoying, "Hey Girl" and "All Over Again" feature the kind of reproachful duets that give the impression of hearing a couple arguing loudly at the next table in self-righteous talk-to-the-hand attitude and grating "yoof" diction. It's a pity, as the first half shows a perky, independent spirit and a distinctly British character that disdains the imported hip-hop tropes - the bling, the guns - rendering much UK R&B a pale imitation of its transatlantic cousin. On tracks such as "Change is Coming" and the Northern Soul stomper "Go Gone", Estelle hits out at the scene's cancerous pessimism and criminality, advocating self-reliance and determination: "From the age of 13 you've got the choices/ It's your life... / Don't let the past rule you, choose your own route." The message is best conveyed on the singles: in "Free" she points out that "You're the only one that seems to be stopping you", while the autobiographical sketch "1980" is a vivid assemblage of homely, sometimes humorous period detail of family, dances, fashions and youth pursuits that stress the value of shared experience.

Comments