Consumer Guide Album
Elle Varner: Perfectly Imperfect [RCA, 2012]
Especially by the standards of r&b divas who share management with Lauryn and Alicia, she's funny--referring to her liver as "her" in "Oh What a Night," requesting an erectile version of the title item in "Refill," bemoaning her looks in a closer she presumably wrote well before the cover shoot. She's disciplined--10 of 11 songs between 3:07 and 4:09. She hones her God-given vocal intensity with no recourse to belting or melisma, and she keeps the grit under control, although the final minute of "Damn Good Friends" should have been crooned or even cooed. And with help from an actual-count 18 confederates, she sharpens herself some hooks--by my count, six of the 11 tracks connect instantly, with the heart songs lagging as usual. Just pray she sticks with her strengths and continues to confederate exactly as much as she needs.