R&B singer-songwriter Elle Varner flew out of the gate in 2011 with a feel-good, boom-bap-heavy tune about a man who had managed to snag her attention away from a particularly nice pair of shoes. But three years already feels like an eternity ago, and on her newer material Varner sounds far from satisfied by either a sweet talker or some new kicks.
She took the stage with guns blazing, and a couple of songs into her set, she was more than willing to admit that she's been going through it lately; a public break-up, a stalled album release and a (freshly resolved) spat with fellow R&B singer K. Michelle have kept Varner's name in the headlines. "This past year, I've been through some s—-," she said, before launching into a stirring performance of "Little Do You Know," a song from her upcoming record, 4 Letter Word.
At Le Poisson Rouge, Varner gave us a handful of that album's songs and one from her previous — all fleshed out and Kodachromed by a live band — inviting the room into the depths of what it means to battle through lies, loss and love itself. Wielding a delicate rasp, and powerful delivery, she showed off the voice that's kept her standing through it all.
- "Cold Case"
- "Don't Wanna Dance"
- "Little Do You Know"
- "F—- It all"
• Elle Varner, lead vocals, guitar
• David Drake, keyboard
• Aaron Monroe, drums
• Fellipe Prata, guitar
• Emanuel Washington, bass
• Ajanee Hambrick, background vocals
• Malik Spence, background vocals
Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Otis Hart; Event Manager: Saidah Blount; Audio Engineers: Richie Clarke, Kevin Wait; Videographers: Rachel Counce, Colin Marshall, Susan Hale Thomas; Host: Frannie Kelley; Special Thanks: Squarespace, (Le) Poisson Rouge; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann