This past summer, rising R&B newcomer Elle Varner came through with one of the best jams of the summer, “Only Wanna Give It to You,” an infectious Hip-Hop-Soul team-up with J. Cole. It should have been Varner’s “All I Want Is You,” but while it made a bit of noise, the record went relatively under the radar.
Fast forward five months and the 22-year-old from Cali is back with Conversational Lush, a 13-track mixtape that should help the chanteuse win over some new fans. Comparisons are inevitable with new artists, so I’ll get those out of the way by saying that Jazmine Sullivan, Estelle, and Chrisette Michele all come to mind at different points when listening through Lush…. Varner has a beautiful coo of a voice, made better by an impressive falsetto and a general lightness that fits the production and content of the mixtape.
Conversational Lush is a solid showcase of a young talent. “Feel Like a Woman” takes the winning formula from “Only Wanna Give It to You” and infuses a dash of island flavor to the mix (Bei Maejor subs in for Cole on the guest-rap). “Go” — with its impassioned vocal performance and layered instrumentation — is prime single material, while “So Fly” is confessional pop that is sure to strike a chord with young ladies who struggle with self-consciousness. Other highlights on the tape include the mid-tempo soul of “Do You Want To” and the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League-produced “Runaway”. Taken as a whole, Conversational Lush is yet another free, high-quality release from a fresh face on the R&B scene. We can definitely get down with that.