ZZ Ward grew up in the small town of Roseberg, Oregon listening to the blues albums in her father's collection and her brother's hip-hop records. By the time she was 12, she was fronting her father's blues band and learning how to control an audience. By 16 she was driving to Eugene to sing with hip-hop acts and soon moved on to L.A. in hopes of making it in the music business. Along the way, she developed a style that's a winning combination of blues, hip-hop, rock, R&B, and pop. Her influences all come together on her debut, a collection that should make her a star if there's any justice in the world. Ward has a wonderfully flexible voice, she can croon like a pop singer, growl like a blues woman, spit attitude like a rocker, and flow like a rapper. There's not a single weak track on her 13-song debut, and several of them sound like hits. Despite its dark title, "Til the Casket Drops" is a profession of undying love that combines a hip-hop verse with a soaring pop chorus. Ward's delivery is marked by the intense passion of jubilant love. "Move Like U Stole It" is a funky rocker with a strong vocal marked by Ward's wordless vocal ornamentations. "Home" is a smoldering R&B ballad with a hint of bossa nova in the rhythm track. "Last Love Song" is a quiet pop tune that mourns the end of a relationship with Ward putting a lifetime of anguish into her understated vocal, and "If I Could Be Her" updates the girl group sound for the 21st century. "Criminal" is Ward's reimagining of the Freddie Gibbs hit "Oil Money." Gibbs liked Ward's version so much that he added a rap to the track to complement her soulful vocal. In case you're wondering, Ward's initials aren't a tribute to ZZ Top or Z.Z. Hill, it's just a shortened version of her given name, Zsuzsanna, also the name of her Mother and Hungarian grandmother.
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AllMusic Review by j. poet