For a pop record, “All of Me,” the latest release from British singer-songwriter Estelle, is surprisingly reflective. Throughout tunes about being in love, being out of love, just living and all things of the like, there are several miniature dialogue breaks in the album that have interviews from people about those very things. They are surely unexpected, but rather than breaking the album’s narrative they add to it, supplying a sense of true context to these songs, as if the songs themselves actually pulled from reality.
Before the relationship commentary, Estelle opens up her new album with “The Life,” bursting with attitude and a powerful sense of confidence backing each note and word coming from the singer. The Chris Brown and Trey Songz-featured “International (Serious)” follows in much of the same manner.
After the opening explosion, the album settles and turns into this, as mentioned, back-and-forth between Estelle and various interviewees, the subject matter pertaining to romance and maintaining relationships. “You And I” contains snippets of people talking about the importance of working on a relationship daily and undertaking new challenges every day. It is followed with the endearing “Love the Way We Used To,” which embodies those very same concepts presented in the previous interview track — Estelle sings that “times change and I still want you” and it’s “so good to find love the way we used to.”
This pattern of interview-song keeps up for the bulk of the album. A personal favorite is the juxtaposition between the interviews of “Who We Are” and recent single “Wonderful Life.” The former points out that it might suit us well to try to be more compassionate in our relationships and friendships. “Wonderful Life” is a challenge of a song, the title is something that we would all like to achieve, however, it will require working with those closest to us in order to obtain it.
“All of Me” closes as loudly as it opens. Estelle is very assured as to what she’s singing. “Speak Ya Mind,” and the album’s closer, the Janelle Monae-featured “Do My Thing,” are fast-paced tunes that inflect confidence. It makes all the anxiety and weariness of the previous love-stained tracks dissipate. “All of Me” is truly an encouraging record that merely asks questions about our lives and how we spend them with other people.