Elle Varner, "Perfectly Imperfect" (RCA Records)
Elle Varner's debut album is titled "Perfectly Imperfect," but she should have called it "Perfect." The newcomer's 11-track set is pure excellence, full of R&B gems that are silky, smooth and jamming.
Her voice -- raspy at times, soft at others -- is the focal point of the album as it glides over songs and adapts to the different beats, which include hip-hop ("Only Wanna Give It to You," "I Don't Care"), funk-soul ("So Fly") and contemporary R&B ("Welcome Home").
"Stop the Clock" is flavorful and addictive, thanks to its dramatic beat and the sound of handclapping dominating the chorus. "Refill," a Top 10 R&B hit, is velvety and could easily be a TV jingle.
Producers Oak & Pop, best known for their work on Nicki Minaj's "Your Love" and Big Sean's "Marvin and Chardonnay," helm most of the songs, though Varner's father, Jimmy Varner, co-writes and produces some of the tracks, and her mother, Mikelyn Roderick, works as a vocal producer and background singer. Varner, a graduate of Clive Davis' music school at New York University, co-wrote each song, and she's got a skill with the pen.
On "Not Tonight," the twentysomething is magically vulnerable, singing about being too scared to approach a man she's interested in. She starts off slow, building her vocals and words, and it makes for a touching track. She's also exposed on "So Fly," a perky outtake about being insecure about her weight and image. On the song, the big-haired, hipster-looking Varner -- in a beautiful tone -- asks: "How can I ever compete with 34 Double D's?"
With that voice, and with this album.
Check this out: "Stop the Clock" is a future hit.