Singer ZZ Ward is So Sultry She Might Kill You

ZZ Ward

There’s sexy, and then there’s dangerously sexy. Listen to “Better Off Dead,” the hot new song from ZZ Ward, for an example of the latter.

Over a spare, spooky beat, Ward’s voice slithers through speakers like warm honey, dark and rich. She draws out lazy notes like a seasoned blues diva, and she adds sighs and gasps like someone who knows she’s selling theater as well as music. It’s all very old school and awesome.

Even better, the production puts Ward’s voice right at the top of the mix. On my headphones, at least, she sounds like she’s sitting on my shoulders, which gives her even more immediacy.

And since she’s singing about being crazy, immediacy is really important. I’m fascinated by the lyrics here: Ward sounds incredibly paranoid, talking about how she’s not crazy, despite what people say. But at the same time, she says that she has conversations with her shadow. Throw in the images of collars around her neck and straitjackets getting tighter around her body, and I start to think she’s not even using metaphors to talk about being an outcast. I think she’s creating a character who really is in an institution.

Like I said: Sexy, sultry, dangerous. Consider me intrigued.

UPDATE: After writing this post, I saw Ward’s new video for the song “Til The Casket Drops,” which is featured on the show Pretty Little Liars. It’s another good song, with an Alicia Keys vibe.

Mark Blankenship tweets as @IAmBlankenship. He recently celebrated the 3 best tracks on Kimbra’s new album.