Album: Estelle, Shine (Atlantic/Home School)

A luminescent comeback for a stellar singer
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The Independent Culture

Chiefly remembered for "1980", her much-loved song from four years ago, you'd have been forgiven for assuming that Estelle Swaray had gone the way of all one-hit wonders.

Instead, the west London singer/MC has spent the missing years marshalling her forces and making some famous friends. One of whom, Kanye West, can be credited with the success of her current No 1 single "American Boy", on which the pair trade transatlantic vocab – she wants him to meet her "bredren", he calls himself a "bloke". There are other celebrity cameos – John Legend, Will.i.am and Cee-Lo, for starters – but the force of Estelle's personality is enough to carry 'Shine' on its own. She's Lily Allen minus the irritation factor, but plus a voice that comes at you like sunshine through the blinds. "No Substitute Love" gives George Michael's "Faith" a lover's rock makeover, and that sets the tone: the dominant sound is All Saints Road circa 1978. Meanwhile, "You Are" is Philly soul updated, and another highlight is "In the Rain", which takes an old Love Unlimited sample and spins it at Pinky & Perky speeds. This record is the sound of summer 2008, a couple of months early. You might as well stop fighting it and submit.

Pick of the Album: Barry White's babes on helium: 'In the Rain'

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