Show: Saturday at the Howard Theatre. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 202-803-2899. thehowardtheatre.com. $30-$65.
Elle Varner is like that best friend you vent to when your love life isn’t going exactly as planned. She gets you, and that comes through in her music. Anyone who has ever been betrayed in a relationship or found themselves experiencing unrequited feelings for someone should be able to relate to such songs as “Damn Good Friends” and the scornful yet playful “Cold Case.” For that track, the singer, 26, has said she was going for a sound that would cross the movie “Kill Bill” with trap music.
At 16, the California native was enrolled in NYU’s music program, the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, where students are given training related to the business and artistic side of the music industry. The singer was first introduced to music fans through her mix tape “Conversational Lush,” on which she gave listeners a glimpse into her sense of humor and creativity. Following the release of her 2012 debut album “Perfectly Imperfect,” her hit song “Refill” earned a Grammy Award nomination.
Varner’s forthcoming album “4 Letter Word” — the release date of which has yet to be announced — features such songs as “Nothing,” a plaintive ballad in which she sings about feeling taken for granted in a romantic relationship. (The singer says it’s the first song she wrote for the album.) And what does “4 Letter Word” represent — is it love, life or maybe loss? Varner challenges listeners to dream up their own interpretations.