Music Review // ZZ Ward "Dirty Shine"

There has been a long time standing belief that rock music (country to that extent) and hip hop don't mix.  I'm not sure why, but it just seems like a lot of people who are fans of one genre don't always listen to the other.   This concept has been disproven over the years, but people still seem to subscribe to it and ZZ Ward has decided to take all of these sounds which don't always go together and make them into one big sound.

Within "Dirty Shine" there exists four different sounds.   One is pop- it's that big radio pop that Shania Twain embraced.   Another is country, as there is this certain twang to this album but also instruments like the harmonica do come into play as well.   The third element here is rock because this goes beyond just being country in some ways and just flat out rocks.  Fourth and finally, this album has beats and just channels a lot of hip hop elements at the same time.

A guest spot by VIC MENSA on "Ride or Die" showcases the hip hop element of this album right away, but it continues throughout.    In a country sense, "Slow Hum Hymnal" feels like we're being dragged to the gallows.   "Dead or Alive" is just a flat out pop bop that should be all over the radio, but making a case for a radio single could be made for many of these songs because above all else they are super catchy.

At times, I think of ZZ Ward as doing what Bon Jovi does- combining pop, rock and country elements into one song- but the delivery is different.   I also think about Kid Rock and when I first heard him back in the mid-1990's-- it gives those same sort of cowboy rap vibes.   But then you have a song like "Forget About Us" and I just hear the AWOLNATION coming through.   Ultimately, there is only one ZZ Ward and that is how this album sounds.  If you're one of those people who will choose country over hip hop (or vice versa) this album might just leave you conflicted in the best possible way.