Ok so of course I have to start this post with one small caveat and that is that my love for the sound of Elle Varner has been documented on these very pages. If you want to check out that particular love fest go here.

Now granted I don’t know if “Refill” is an official single release or if it is just something that Elle’s team is testing the waters of the interwebs with… I know it arrived in the inbox last evening and of course it got the immediate open and push play because of the aforementioned love fest. Again, I must confess that I realize that I am probably not the target demo for Elle. I must say though, that I did feel somewhat hip when back in August I was rebuffed by my teenager daughter when I tried to put her on to “Only Wanna Give It To You” only to be ignored and then lo and behold who happens to playing the song about three months later when I walked by the room but I digress…

So suffice to say I was intrigued when I clicked on the clip. It may be that my listening was colored by my love for “Only Wanna Give It To You” I mean the song is really a 90’s homage and having really come of age during that decade it hit a soft spot. Now granted I had nor have any expectation for Elle Varner or any other artist to be a 90’s re-tread. We’ve been there, we’ve done that and it’s not coming back, but what we can hope for, hell demand, is that good great music counterbalance a lot of the bull that is in the marketplace and I feel that “Only Wanna Give It To You” has really done that.

Honestly my reaction to “Refill” was pretty indifferent. There are things that I really like about the track and there are things that in this one person’s opinion are not the business. Again, that’s all this is: one person’s opinion wrapped in a lot of admiration for an artist who he hears has the potential to be something great for music.

What I like about “Refill”

1. Elle Varner is in great voice here. No denying that she’s a singer and I really enjoy the edge that she puts on her vocal in places, reminiscent of how a saxophone player can take their sound out and get a buzzy edge when they have command of the instrument.

2. I like the contrast of the double-time feel of the fiddle sample against the feel of the vocal and the rest of the rhythm track.

3.There’s a bridge which I’m always on personal crusade for bridges in songs. It seems like song form evolved from 12-bar Blues to 32 Bar Standard Song Form and then devolved to a lot of what goes for song form these days a 4-Bar loop(And yes, of course I realize that “Only Wanna Give It To You” is essentially a 4-Bar loop with a slight change but it is a strong 4-Bars). So a strong suit to this track is that we do get a brief respite from the redundant.

What I don’t like about “Refill”

1. The aforementioned “Fiddle Sample”. I like where it sits groove wise but concept wise it sounds somewhat gimmicky to me. Sorta like… “Yo, you know what would be hot that no one has done…” *Pages Blu Cantrell’s peeps from his two-way Sky Pager*

2. As Stanley so eloquently stated in Friday for folks to stay off his lawn, can we stay away from certain drum sounds that have become as ubiquitous as the Orchestra Hit? Just a thought.

3. Again, I don’t know if this song is an official release or a teaser track, but I’m just wondering about the use of another clever extended metaphor so close on the heels of “Only Wanna Give It To You”. I mean I dig extended metaphors and I’ll take them any day over the sophomoric muck that passes as lyrics for a majority of artists these days. Just another thought.

Just a quick reminder about the inspiration for this post… I’m not writing about the majority of artists, I’m writing about Elle Varner who because I hear so much in her I would even take the time to share these few thoughts. I don’t have any agenda, no more than just stating what one lone listener hears. I would love to hear your thoughts… I could be totally off-base or just an old curmudgeon who doesn’t get it. Hit me up in the comment section.

All in love.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.