Album: Shontelle, Shontelligence, (SRC/Universal Motown Island)

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The Independent Culture

Hailing from the same Barbadian diaspora that brought us Rihanna, Shontelle Layne was discovered by Rihanna's management team of Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken when a song she wrote, "Roll It", proved the hit of the island's Crop Over Carnival for soca star Alison Hinds.

The pair signed her up and set about creating the album which spawned the current hit single "T-Shirt", with its improbable but winning premise that she'd rather slob around in her absent lover's old shirt than glam up and go out, because: "Nothing feels right when I'm not with you/Sick of this dress and these Jimmy Choos". Yeah, sure. The rest of Shontelligence doesn't quite live up to this opening salvo, unfortunately: too many tracks lapse into coffee-table reggae grooves, and too many lyrics rehearse assertiveness-training commonplaces like: "Life is not an easy road, have to play your part and take control". But the slower, soulful "Cold Cold Summer" makes a brave incursion into Winehouse country, "Ghetto Lullabye" uses an engaging ethnic flute sample, and "Focus Pon Me" has an infectious bhangra-fied cocktail of tabla, tamboura and handclaps. Which is more, admittedly, than most of her rival R&B divas can boast.

Pick of the album:'T-Shirt', 'Roll It', 'Focus Pon Me', 'Cold Cold Summer'