Anyone checking out the new release from Estani expecting to hear the incendiary pop-rock clash which made Battlescars such a force to be reckoned with is in for a bit of a shock. And the nature of that shock says more about the listener than the artist. Anyone moaning that she has turned into a soul-pop artist really doesn’t get what being a singer and musician is all about. Those who embrace the, perhaps unexpected, sonic switch are the ones that understand what drive artists like Estani.
Artists shouldn’t be expected to just replicate one sound over and over again. After all, no one orders the same meal every time that they dine out or drive the same car for their whole life. Similarly, artists relish embracing new sounds, new challenges, new experiences, none more so than Estani.
Droughts in The Ocean sounds like a timeless R&B sound being brought bang up to date. You can hear the echoes of the likes of soul divas and pop singers from Aretha to Whitney, from Etta James to Jennifer Lopez guiding the song along but it is nothing if not a song very much sitting in the present day too. Familiar yet fresh! The best of both worlds.
Estani sings of metaphorical droughts in the oceans of life but does so in a sweet and emotive fashion, the beat is a classic R&B groove…some things can’t be improved on…brass punctuates the sound and heavenly choral voices help see the song home. It wanders between understated verses and slightly heightened chorus but saves the real kick for the middle eight which hits some astonishing heights and impressive crescendoes.
And as with all songs grounded in the soul-blues-R&B axis, it comes from the heart. Lyrically intriguing and unquestionably personal, it also portrays emotional ideas that we can all relate to, which is, again, the strength of those genres.
But more than that, such a song coming on the back of Battlescars just underlines Estani’s versatility, her ability to hop from one genre to the next, explore new sonic territory and wander between styles and then make them her own. Too many artists get stuck in musical ruts and hem themselves in with ideas of genres and where they think that they fit in the creative scheme of things. Not Estani, for her, the musical world is a playground to be explored and enjoyed to the fullest.
It only makes you wonder where we are going to find her next. And that is the sign of a true artist.