Grammy award winning singer Estelle, has gone the reggae route, or perhaps the West Indian route for her fifth album – Lovers Rock. Set for release on September 7, the album serves as more than just a recognition of the artiste’s heritage – the album was in honour of her parents, and their tumultuous relationship.
“They’re the whole point of the album,” Estelle told The Gleaner.
The album is made up of much more that it’s title. Pulling from the influence of her father’s Senegalese nationality, and her mother’s Grenadian, then adding her own upbringing in the UK, Estelle has used reggae, soca, afro-beats and dancehall to portray the winding road of her parent’s relationship, from their first meeting, to their separation and ultimate reunion.
“I wanted to chronicle it. I wanted to say that it’s OK to have a fresh start, to live your life in the way you know, and want to, and to do what’s good for you. That’s what they did, and I’m so grateful they did. They’ve given me a new perspective on relationships,” the American Boy singer said.
The title of the album is also reflective of her parents. But she was more concerned about their reaction, than anyone else. “I wanted to call it that, because it is about them. It’s their story, as told through the experiences that I faced. If I didn’t put lover’s rock on it, mom and dad would be like, ‘this ain’t no story!'” Estelle exclaimed.
When it comes to her own personal relationships, her musings helped her realise that she was approaching her own relationships in the way that failed her parents. “After a while, I began realising that in my own life, I was repeating what I knew, though not necessarily on purpose. I ended up doing them and wondering why things were going wrong. I was miserable.”
After the release of the album’s lead single Love Like Ours, featuring Tarrus Riley, Estelle notes that the prominence of the reggae and dancehall influence on recent pop charts was not a motivator for her. “I’m not new to it to reggae and dancehall and afro-beats. I just felt like it was the best thing coming out of me right now.”
To support Estelle’s multi-genre approach, Lover’s Rock combined a stellar and varied list of artistes which include: Luke James, Konshens, Chronixx, Meleek Berry, Alicai Harley and Hood Celebrityy. The accomplished vocalist was deliberate in her selection. “Everybody makes it a point to work with people at the top of the game. But it’s also about making sure that everything that I do is true to the core of the music. It wasn’t about finding the most popping person. I mean, I’m a fan of Kranium and Chronixx – I love them both. But Luke James is like my little brother and he’s also a fantastic performer. So for me, it was just finding who was best for the job.”
Though Estelle chose artistes with clearly differing musical styling, she does not consider the musical genres completely exclusive to each other. “They’re all cousins. You can’t listen one genre without getting a bit into the other. It’s all really good music, but the afro-beats is one side of the world, reggae is another side, soca is another, and if you mix all those together – that’s how I grew up,” she explained.
Estelle’s hope is that fans takeaway a relatable experience in love, with a happy ending. “I don’t do things for the sake of it. I don’t make records just for the culture. This is natural for me – in my soul. I started working on this six years ago, before the current wave. But the influence is undeniable. Records released every summer is influenced by West Indian and African music,” she surmised.
“The people I made this for already love reggae music. People did that 20 years before I came along. I’m not here for that. I’m just trying to make sure what I contribute is great.”