R&B newcomer Elle Varner breezed through last summer with the minor hit "Only Wanna Give It To You," a sprightly ode to cute boys and new shoes. She retains its bright pink spirit on this free mixtape, with producers J.U.S.T.I.C.E League and Pop & Oak twisting grandiose instrumentation and crispy drum tracks into a fresh spin on classic hip-hop soul. Varner is blessed with a raw, powerful voice that blends Alicia Keys' wails and Faith Evans' coos, best showcased on impassioned ballads like "Go." But her lyrics can get buried behind delivery, at times for the better: "I meet so many men but I’ve never found the one… it sucks so bad," she pouts on "Ghosts." Still, Lush is a promising sign from the young singer – still finding her voice, but looking in the right places.
Listen To Elle Varner's "Go":
• Photos: Random Notes