Elle Varner “Oh What A Night”
If there’s anything we’ve learned about R&B newcomer Elle Varner after endlessly indulging in her excellent Conversational Lush mixtape and the attention-grabbing one-two punch of her two introductory singles (the Top 20-charting debut “Only Wanna Give It To You” and even more successful Top 10-peaking follow-up, “Refill”), it’s that ultimately, the talented 23-year-old singer/ songwriter only wants to give the masses some good, solid R&B…something that’s definitely brought to the table on her (finally released) debut effort Perfectly Imperfect.
One of the strongest urban contemporary debuts in recent memory, the eleven-cut Imperfect feels like the work of a pro on her third or fourth set, housing Varner’s unique, raspy tone and irresistibly charming songwriting sketches that mostly explore the giddy rush of being young and in love (or lust) baked in richly detailed arrangements that dip in the waters of bumping 90′-era hip-hop soul and the supple soul grooves of the ’70′s and ’80′s while still sounding freshly modern.
If we were granted the power to pick a future single, hands down it would have to be mid-set stand-out “Oh What A Night”, a sort-of urban riff on Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” (minus the guilty pleasure…well, guilt) that finds Varner waking up “makeup smeared/…lookin’ crazy”, before slowly piecing together the liquor-fueled craziness of the previous evening.
In the end nothing too scandalous is revealed, but that does little to take away from Varner’s charismatic presence here, evoking “I’ve been there” co-signing nods as she recalls regrettable dance floor flirtations and buying the entire club a round while effortlessly wading through producer Al Shux‘ pounding, taut funk on the verses and hooky, strum-happy pop on the feel-good chorus.