In 1998 Esthero’s Breath From Another dropped to critical acclaim. Unfortunately, commercial success wasn’t part of that package, and since then, Esthero has become one of the most widely respected and under recognized personas in the industry.
Over the last seven years she’s collaborated with the Blue Man Group, Black Eyed Peas, Sugar Ray, and DJ Krush among many others. She’s been featured on soundtracks for television, film, and video games. It seems, after all of that, it’s time to receive what’s due.
Esthero’s upcoming album, Wikked Lil’ Grrrls is an amalgamation of her talents, playing out her abilities to be a trip-hop goddess, an R&B songstress, a twenties jazz vocalist, and even a pop rock singer. Esthero does it all glowingly, and in the end leaves the listener confused, though not without impressing repeatedly over Wikked’s 17 tracks.
“I’m so sick and tired of the shit on the radio, and MTV they only play the same thing, no matter where I go I see Ashanti on the video. I want something more.” Esthero belts this as soon as the disc begins, and it’s immediately apparent she’s been stretching her boundaries a bit since the nineties. Her vocals are as fiery as they are seductive, and rather than looking to improve on her near flawless genre work, Esthero chose to collaborate with multiple producers including Sean Lennon and Spookey Ruben, resulting in a refreshing collection of songs, each worthy of individual success.
The album’s problems don’t lie within the tracks themselves (though poems and phone messages, while interesting initially, tend to quickly be deemed as skippable as skits on a rap album. Fortunately, there are few of these). Each song perfects what it is trying to be. “Gone” is a sensuous and sad R&B tune while “Beautiful Lie” holds an iconic trip-hop sound. “Junglebook” is a thumping dance club number and “If Tha Mood” works as the album’s notable booty shaker. Unfortunately, amongst all of the fantastic individual productions, cohesion is lacking.
Wikked Lil’ Grrrls, in the end, plays out like a collection of incomparable singles. Possibly, a greatest hits of songs unreleased over the last three-fourths of a decade. Either way, Esthero has released another remarkable album that will hopefully break her into the mainstream.
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