Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
It's a Saturday night with dramatic flourishes in most ZZ Ward songs. It's not your typical Saturday night, unless you're ZZ Ward, or the women that feature themselves in her songs. They don't just end with a peck on the cheek, a cheerless, but mostly unemotional washing off of the face's makeup and a changing in sleeping pants and a t-shirt and then an uneventful slip into bed with the paperback that they've been plowing through for the past week, before turning off the light, with no indication that there will be anything to clean up in the morning hours.
The native Pennsylvanian dives into stories that never masquerade. They are purposeful and biting. They exert the kind of attitude that one takes when they've just had it up to here with everything that's been going on and, instead of getting pushed the hell around, they're going to stand up and push back now. The passivity is going to be a thing of the past, though, Ward makes it seem like she's had a strong will since she was still taking bottles. Now, it's other types of bottles and the tussles are over love and men.
She'll find for men who probably don't deserve the fight and she'll rescind love when that's what needs to be done - but none of it seems to come easy. There are palls over these songs, sounding like admittance of neither person having been all that great to the other, but that doesn't seem to mean that they've agreed to anything.
Ward's in this for the fight, for the understanding that none of this might get resolved until she's six feet under the ground, in memoriam. Why should any of it be easy though? Who cares about easy? It's better that people are pulling their hair out, chewing their fucking nails off, waiting up til the early morning hours worried about their lover coming home, fretting about what's coming next, now what. At least it's not rote.
*Essay originally published October, 2012