ZZ Ward returns for her sophomore album, The Storm, which follows her well received debut album, Til The Casket Drops. It’s been five years since ZZ’s debut album and The Storm is well worth the wait. While ZZ Ward has definite pop appeal, she certainly isn’t leaving her blues influences behind.
ZZ Ward grew up on the blues listening to Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson and Big Mama Thornton, and that influence is clear from the get-go. “Ghost” is the opening track, which is raw, folksy, and bluesy and that theme continues on “Cannonball.” 2017 Grammy Award winner Fantastic Negrito joins Ward on the track, which showcases ZZ on harmonica. The single, “Help Me Mama” follows and highlights ZZ’s powerhouse vocals. Next up is the title track, which begins with just ZZ’s vocals and piano and is about weathering through the tough times in life.
The pace changes a bit on “Cannonball,” which features an appearance by Fitz before heading back into the blues direction with the slide guitar on “Let It Burn.” Sometimes less is more and Ward goes with a stripped down approach on “Bag Of Bones.” Much of the album is pretty raw as far as instrumentation goes, but that really just puts the spotlight on ZZ’s impressive vocals. The album closes with the upbeat single, “Ride,” featuring Gary Clark Jr. on guitar.
There’s no sophomore slump on The Storm. Once again, ZZ Ward delivers with powerful vocal performances and well crafted songs. After the success of Til The Casket Drops, Ward could have easily gone in a different direction, but she should be applauded for continuing to make music inspired by her roots. The Storm is another winner from ZZ Ward.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Help Me Mama
– The Storm
The Big Hit
– Help Me Mama
Review by Pete Francis