Album review | R&B

Estelle, ‘True Romance’

“Conqueror,” the breakout empowerment anthem from Brit soul singer-songwriter Estelle’s third record, is an obvious crossover move with a broad, play-to-the-rafters chorus. It’s also one of the least interesting songs she has produced; luckily, it’s an anomaly on a disc dominated by more intimate tracks stamped with Estelle’s personality. The 11 musically diverse songs are preoccupied with love, sex, and the collateral damage of bad relationships. This is not Estelle’s most consistent record; it’s marred by a few static ballads, but also includes more than enough emotionally involving, tautly produced tracks. “Make Her Say (Beat It Up)” — essentially a rawer take on “Justify My Love” — revels in the healing powers of sex without ever quite cohering. Estelle joyously dips into the house on “Something Good/Devotion,” downshifting on the latter half into a groove evoking Soul II Soul. The luxuriously sensual “Time Share (Suite 509),” about temporal joys of the flesh, is the centerpiece, and ultimately, Estelle’s fine pop instincts (“Time After Time”) buoy “True Romance” through some choppy waters. (Out Tuesday)


ESSENTIAL “Time Share (Suite 509)”

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