The landscape of R&B has changed dramatically over the last few years. You may have noticed more artists incorporating a Top-40 crossover ready sound, with less of the soul that once characterized the genre. Change can be good,and in this case, the incorporation of a more euro-pop sound has exposed established artists to new audiences. With all that being said, it can also be refreshing to incorporate the good things of the past, with the good things of the present. That’s what Elle Varner has done with her debut major label album, “Perfectly Imperfect”.
The 20-something California native (and current NYC resident) is offering listeners an opportunity to grasp on to an updated R&B sound, with the attention to lyrical detail that was so prevalent back in the golden days of powerhouse labels like Motown. It’s relevant, it’s fun, and it’s solidly produced… making it a real treat for fans of real music.
If her songwriting style could be compared to any current artist, she’d most likely draw a parallel with someone like Taylor Swift…content wise, that is. Using her varied experiences with self-awareness, self-acceptance, love and lack thereof as a backdrop, Varner has released what could easily become the sountrack to every girl’s quarterlife; crisises and triumphs alike. In short, she does an excellent job of being true to herself as a person, and as an artist… which is easy when they are one in the same.
Driven by the success of her most popular single ‘Refill’, Varner’s first foray into the market isn’t long (only boasting 11 tracks), but what it lacks in length it definitely makes up for in substance. Her skills with the pen are probably best displayed on ballads ‘Not Tonight’, (in which Elle is confronted with the issue of conquering her shyness for a chance at the guy of her dreams,) and ‘Damn Good Friends’ ( a track that tells the story of being “friend zoned” and wanting much more.)
Upon first listen, the standout pick for a third single would be ‘Oh What A Night,’ a party-ready record which finds Elle piecing together the previous night in a style very reminicient of the film “The Hangover.”
Perfectly Imperfect lives up to it’s title. Elle is not a powerhouse vocalist, but coupled with the artistry displayed in the lyrics and production, her raspy style creates an interesting landscape that listeners will appreciate. With this release, she’s establishing the foundation for what could be a very successful career.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Stand Out Tracks: Not Tonight, Oh What A Night, Leaf, I Don’t Care
Reminds us of: The soul of Lauryn Hill meeting the youthful exuberance & love-struck storytelling of Taylor Swift. Sounds like a weird combination, but… it works.
Overall: It’s one that you should have in your collection. Purchase here on iTunes, or listen below on Spotify.