ZZ Ward - Til The Casket Drops
ZZ Ward is a twenty six year old American singer/songwriter. She grew up in Pennsylvania in a family of musicians. Even though this album came out over a year ago, October 2012, it is still gaining momentum. Her vocals alone are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Her sultry tone, both in her vocals and her lyrics, helps to define her as a completely original artist today.
Her unique melding of genres makes this album an invigorating listen. From the very first track “Til the Casket Drops”, to the last track “365 Days”, I was able to loose myself in her world.
The title track kicks off with a powerful beat that drives throughout the entire song. The guitar part, and beat, remain pretty simple throughout the song, allowing the vocal line to shine through. Some violin and cello are added throughout the song, creating interesting layering. Following this track is the biggest hit off the album “Put the Gun Down”. This piece, like many of her tracks, has a simple yet powerful driving beat. The lyrics are a bit dark, while the vocal melody is playful, yet confident all at the same time. She changes up the driving beat a bit in the albums third track titled “Blue Eyes Blind”. The delayed heartbeat style beat gives the verses and type of haunting tranquility. She keeps the theme throughout the chorus as well, adding some instruments to fill out the sound.
“Home”, the fourth track on the album, begins with a more folk vibe. She creates this by using a diluted beat, and stronger focus on the acoustic guitar in the verses. When the chorus kicks in the beat picks up, the addition of bass and piano fill out the hook. The best part about this whole track is the bridge. It’s very strong and filled with passion. Next is a track featuring Kendrick Lamar called “Cryin Wolf”. This is the perfect marriage of blues and hip hop. Many artists today try and blend these genres, and often are unable to do it properly. Ward seamlessly blends the genres in this track, while still putting her own spin on it.
“Save My Life”, similar to “Blue Eyes Blind”, is both empowering and dark. The bass line is dark as well as the lyrics. The use of tambourine and bells brighten up the melody line. “Last Love Song” is the only track on the album that could be classified as a ballad. The simplicity of the verses is heartbreaking. When the chorus comes in, the sound is rounded out by using string instruments for ornamentation. This piece shows that Ward has a more demure side to her songwriting, in addition to the power. “Lil Darlin” is the eigth track on the album featuring The O’Mys. The song is full of blues influence down to the core. She keeps the same signature keys and soul driven beat.
“Move Like U Stole it” is arguably the most fun track on the album. The lyrics are very playful and the vocal melody is seductive. The beat in combination with vocals, make it almost impossible not to resist getting up and dancing. “Criminal”, featuring Freddie Gibbs, is the second track on the album with strong hip hop elements. This piece however, has a much more soulful tone over the hip hop elements. The next track “If I Could Be Her” mirrors the influences in “Save My Life”. It’s both somber and intoxicating at the same time. The instrumentation is much simpler, and has a slightly more electronic feel than previous tracks on the album.
“Charlie Aint Home”, is one of my personal favorite songs off the album. One of the best ways to describe the sound is sex on a stick. Both the lyrics and the feel of the song exude sexuality. At the same time there is a overwhelming sense of remorse in the tone of her voice. It is very clearly influenced by a deep south style blues. The final track on the album “365 Days” brings the entire album together. It’s has all the elements of a ZZ Ward track and then some.
This album flies by the second you open your ears to it. Ward’s sultry yet powerful vocals can not be compared to.