Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Clever Radio Presents: ZZ Ward

Cleaning out my drafts folder as part of my overall "spring cleaning" endeavors - not quite the same as having eight garbage bags full of old clothes to donate, but, y'know. Every little bit of closure and organization helps, yes? Also, this post was from December, if that tells you anything about how far behind on absolutely everything I am. I figured this would be mildly relevant since I posted something music-related yesterday. The straws, I am grasping for them.

Friends, let me tell you about a new album that I am currently mildly obsessed with. (No, not Grace Potter. We talked about that one already. I was actually in the middle of this post when I posted that one. Attention span FOR THE FAIL!) 

Let me also tell you how long it has been since I've been this excited by an album. Rare, also, is the album I can listen to on repeat and not get sick of within a day or so. I mean, okay, this album and I, we're still in the honeymoon period, but you need to mark my words (MARK THEM!) this girl is going to be huge.

[available for purchase here for the low low price of $5 through the month of December]

I randomly stumbled across this album in the Amazon $5 MP3 section. I'm not sure what made me click on it, but I am IN LOVE. I only made it through half of the preview tracks before I was all BUY BUY BUY and very antsy to just purchase the damn thing. (I waited for the previews to finish anyway, because I am polite, I guess?) The last time I was this impressed by an album after the first listen, it was Adele's 21. Y'know, before she was overplayed to death on the radio.

I've always been terrible at describing music and why I like it. It's... hmm. Her voice is intense and you can tell she's talented (listen this cover of an Etta James song. I want her to cover all the songs ever.). Her songs are sassy and have a dirty bluesy sound to them, a hint of hip-hop, a predominance of guitar and piano, but carried mostly by vocals. It's the kind of music you'd expect to hear in a dimly-lit, smoky venue. I feel like I should be drinking whiskey or something while listening to it. 

I think the best way I can describe it: the love child of hip-hop and blues. (I think? I am terrible at this game.)

The lyrics are more sophisticated than a lot of other songs I've heard lately. Like the majority of music out there, a lot of them circle the subject of love in its various aspects, but they're anything but cheesy. They are by turns lustful, heartbroken, aloof, cocky, mischevious, and soulful.

My top tracks, to narrow it down, Til The Casket Drops (the title track), Blue Eyes Blind, If I Could Be Her. I'm hard-pressed to explain why, but they just are. She has also created what are now my favorite breakup songs (if there is such a thing)... a grownup breakup song that's truly heartbreaking in Last Love Song and a bad-ass "I'm throwing your shit out the window, asshole" song called 365 Days. 

Also, she wears a fedora. Which makes us kindred spirits. 

[via Amazon]

I... I kind of hope the radio never gets hold of this album. It's not that I don't want her to succeed; it's that I don't want this album to be ruined for me. Because I'm selfish, and kind of a hipster, sometimes, ish. I mean, not that I really listen to the radio... I haven't been overly keen on "today's music" (that makes me feel so crotchety, yeesh) and for all I know the radio consists entirely of Katy Perry and One Direction and whatever else is popular right now, like I said, I don't really listen to it much. I get annoyed with it easily. Mostly it's the commercials, I think? I hate radio commercials. I JUST WANT TO LISTEN TO MY MUSIC, OKAY? NOT YOUR CHEESY AD PITCH. But ZZ Ward doesn't strike me as being a radio-ready pop starlet. (Could be because they'd have to probably censor out some of her lyrics a bit, heh.) I don't think that was the intention behind this album. It doesn't sound like a radio album. Which is refreshing. Some artists make music specifically based on what will sell, what is popular right now. I'm at a loss as to compare this to anything else right now. The closest match to her voice would probably be Amy Winehouse, and I suppose you could make a case to compare her to Adele, but I think she stands out enough on her own without comparisons. This whole paragraph is what happens when I write stuff late at night. 

I'm bummed that she's not touring anywhere near here* on the next go-round. The closest Midwest dates hit right around when I'm shipping off to Denver for a trade show. Go figure. Fingers crossed for the next round.

*Okay, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Chicago are fairly close. But I like it when things end up right in my backyard.

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