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| 9 September 2023 | Reply

Label: Dirty Shine Records

Release Date: September 8, 2023

Rating: 92%

Reviewer: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

ZZ Ward doesn’t fall into any categories that typically find their way into my normal rotation, but that is because her sound doesn’t fit perfectly into any one genre or bucket.  Regardless, her music is an earworm that won’t let go of me from release to release, with the latest release Dirty Shine being no different.  Disc opener “Welcome to Dirty Shine” is a fun little instrumental piece that helps set the stage for what is about to come.  “Ride or Die” is a great song that features Vic Mensa.  The acoustic vibe of the opening allows ZZ to give us a fresh listen to her vocals and appreciate what she brings to the table.  The chorus hits and this one grows exponentially from there, especially when Mensa tosses a rap across the track as the second verse.  “On One” is another collaboration, this time featuring Jean Deaux.  The sonic groove of this one has a bit more punch than others but fits within the self-inflicted confines Ward has given herself on this release.  The percussion and overall instrumentation grab you and doesn’t let go.  I find my foot tapping every time I spin through this one.  “Forget About Us” is hands down the catchiest track on the disc and features awesome tongue in cheek lyrics that I am sure strike to the heart of the matter for ZZ and many others listening to the disc and track.  The song moves along and is over before you know it, prompting me to restart it time and time again.  There is something in the overall feel and sound of the track that digs in my head.  “Baby Don’t” is like the other songs on the disc, but there is something in the underlying sound that stands out.  The songs cadence and rhythm are solid and similar, but different at the same time.  There is something almost punchy in the bottom end that carries the track.  “Cut Me Loose” takes a left and while the same is different and I am still not sure how I feel about this track being added to the disc.  While there is some cool vocalization going on, it doesn’t seem to gel with the other tracks.

“Fadeaway” builds on the overall vibe of the disc (and her complete catalog for that matter).  There is something contagious about the rhythms Ward weaves into the musical landscape of each track and disc, including this track.  The chorus acts as a glue between the verses and bridges that add slightly different energies and textures to the song.  “Slow Hum Hymnal” is another interlude that bridges tracks and features different instrumentation and random vocalization giving the disc depth between musical tracks.  “Dead or Alive” is cut from the musical cloth that is ZZ Ward and her musical journey.  The vocals decorate the landscape perfectly while the percussion and guitar work perfectly direct the path of the track sonically.  This is one of my favorites on the disc thanks to the fun vibe of the track and the rhythmic groove.  “Friends Like These” is another song that relies on ZZ’s vocals, fun lyrics, and overall sound she has cultivated over the years and releases.  There is a slightly different twist to the song on the various breakdowns that makes this one different without deviating from the sound of the other songs.  “North Bank Blues” is an amazing piece that features some killer harmonica taking use into the next track.  “OverdoZZe” is the biggest right turn of the collection but adds to the depth and dimension of the overall package.  This one closes the hattrick of favorites on the disc thanks to the fun guitar work, electric vocals from Ward, and almost tribal rhythm of the song, especially during the breakdowns and transitions.  The song has some cool sounds and effects tossed in for good measure and is all the better for it.  Don’t sleep on this track.  “Tin Cups” brings back the acoustic driven vibe of earlier songs and gives us another listen to the purities in ZZ’s beautiful voice overtop some instrumentation and a solid guitar riff.  This one features a duet with Aloe Blacc that gives the other pairings on the disc a run for their collective money, with this one winning that race.  I love the Americana-tinged groove she tossed over the track without deserting her roots.  Disc closer “Don’t Let Me Down” is a great book end that features Ward’s rich voice with those beautiful nuances I have come to love since first hearing “Put The Gun Down” or “Til The Casket Drops.”  On that note, time to dig out that nearly 11-year-old gem and go for a ZZ ride…

Tracklisting: Welcome to Dirty Shine – Ride or Die (feat. Vic Mensa) – Fadeaway – On One (feat. Jean Deaux) – Slow Hum Hymnal – Dead or Alive – Forget About Us – Friends Like These – Baby Don’t – North Bank Blues – OverdoZZe – Cut Me Loose – Tin Cups (feat. Aloe Blacc) – Don’t Let Me Down







Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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