Though she’s trying to crash the big time by merging blues and pop R&B, ZZ Ward loves her roots | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Though she’s trying to crash the big time by merging blues and pop R&B, ZZ Ward loves her roots 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

click to enlarge ZZ Ward

ZZ Ward

Courtesy Hollywood Records

ZZ Ward has dedicated her career to merging blues with contemporary pop R&B, achieving fair aesthetic results and mixed commercial success. Her single “The Deep,” off her sophomore album The Storm (out at the end of June on Hollywood), is a fine example of that approach. A meaty riff with chopped-up blues-slide notes dripping around the edges and an honest-to-god classic-rock guitar solo are arranged around a solid radio-ready beat. It’s tough and sexy—and not too far removed from Beyoncé’s similar mashup of rock, roots, and pop on Lemonade. “Help Me Mama” is a step closer to retro, with a strutting roll and Ward declaring in her gritty twang, “My daddy raised me, tried to keep me his sweet baby.” In an alternate universe Ward would be a megastar on country radio, and her collaborations with Kendrick Lamar would be the standard for forward-looking innovation in the genre rather than Florida Georgia Line’s experiments with Auto-Tune. Even while she’s trying to crash the big time, though, Ward still loves her roots. In concert she does the occasional full-on blues cover, complete with her own impressive harmonica playing.   v

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Music
Cheick Hamala Diabate Szold Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music
August 17

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories