Z Z Ward

The Storm

(Hollywood Records)

This artist had one of the better, grittier tracks on the recent Cars 3 film which we reviewed and she social’d – thank you Ms Ward – and the actual song Ride can be heard on this album release.

So what is this lady about?  well she’s a good-looking slightly happyish lass toting a white Strat and a full-on vocal attack. As regards subject matter, we are in the land of guys who can’t be trusted and what can be done about ‘em..

Ghost is a stomping whooper of a song on the topic of a cheatin’ man – must be crazy! – and Z Z putting matters to rights in an insistent singing performance. As a well-pitched piece of bitchin’ these romps home but a more interesting bassline would have made the song swing a tad better. Cannonball features Fantastic Negrito And again that snappy, croaky voice is not letting up, almost a bluesy Aguilera The progression is nimble and Negrito puts in a rather good complementary vocal that makes its mark without stepping on Ward’s impassioned contribution, @ 2.30 a reedy harp takes the break, followed a gritty guitar outing.

Help Me Mama uses an acoustic chug tempo and a lyric calling out another dodgy cove, with Z Z hitting a neat falsetto over the handclap beat. Her voice is a matter of taste, but it does sound right in these rocky settings. The guitar run has delay, over grumbling bass. The sheer insistence of this number really does get to you, listeners.

Title cut The Storm is a country ballad delivered with voice and keen lyrics. How does this artist attract such a****** geezers, then? Unlucky or is she high maintenance? Or is the notion of trouble suitable fiction fodder for songs on this theme. This composition has a very catchy chorus and general ambience. Domino includes Fitz, not an act I know anything about. If it’s the singer, he does a good job. A very annoying synth figure pops up here and there. The choppy tempo suits both singers. The piano taps sound cool but that Woody Woodpecker synth, fetch a rifle!

Let It Burn rides in on slide guitar and a field holler beat, Z Z testifies, pulling in all her croakiness. If Grace Jones came from the creek, she might well sound like this. Maybe the best lyric here. Bag Of Bones has gentle but firm acoustic guitar and easily the best singing on the collection. Not just from Ward, the bv’s are excellent. A very downhome sound but put over really well. She should lay back a bit more as this is soaked in feel and timbre.

She Ain’t Me sniffs through the acrid smoke of a breakup, making its point over a dirty grinding backdrop that puts me in mind of The Cadillac 3. The bass churns as harp slivers puff away, then the drumming hits a drum’n’bass groove. If that sounds messy, no, it is just exciting, tension utilised to knock up a voodoo feel. By contrast the gentle If U Stayed bites as hard in its own way. Ward hears an ex is getting hitched, maybe from desperation on his behalf. It is unutterably sad and handled in a subtle way. Vacuums are strange things. Hold On has solid pulse and another good vocal performance, a semi-gospel arrangement using strings colours the track but the lyric dominates.

Ride has Gary Clark Jr aboard and is a fun piece meant for the Cars film soundtrack buzzy boogie guitars and a fast smacking beat pumping  the tune along. The rickety chorus sits over a riff-repeat that will stay in your head. Clark rides out on electric guitar, each note bursting with feel…..

A country-blues-rock set with a pronounced contemporary production. It would be great to hear ZZ’s voice over some horns. Maybe next time, miss? Once you get used to her voice the set is a good listen and as lively as you could wish. Bag Of Bones is the jewel in this crown imho.

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks go to Glenn Sargeant for sourcing this release)

ZZ Ward’s new studio album ‘The Storm’ is out now on Hollywood Records.

For more information visit her official website here: http://bit.ly/2wJFJYa

ZZ Ward