Lauren Ruth Ward's Fierce, Queer Throwback Rock

By Allisen Hae Ji Lichtenstein

Lauren Ruth Ward’s sound seems to belong outside of time—someplace where sixties rock and contemporary queer experience coincide. Despite the major influences from former eras, Ward’s sound is uniquely her own and resonates with the age-old of problems of identity, sexuality, and womanhood.

Ward’s writing process echoes the synthesis of sound found in her songs. She says her writing consists of “saving little bits and piece[s], ” ranging from “full concepts to a phrase or a word.” Though the influences on her music include artists such as The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Elliott Smith, her songs center on her own experience; “they're all personal emotions or experiences I've been through,” Ward says. Her latest album “Well, Hell” explores a heartening range of them. On “Make Love to Myself,” her raspy vocals embody both power and vulnerability, as she sings, “I am not your honey / I don't need nobody for nothing /I've got myself for loving.” This song of self-love is followed by the unapologetic “Blue Collar Sex Kitten,” where she heralds “I'm a dyke, dated guys, ain't a crime, won't apologize for my tribe.”

When Ward was a child, her grandfather was the only other singer in her family. She remembers how “he had he own karaoke set up with a TV and everything.” But he would never let her just listen to him sing. Instead, he'd have Ward sing “‘Crazy’ and ‘Blue’ by Patsy Cline all of the time,” she says. Her family musical influence paired with constant practice allowed her to find her sound. "As a kid, I'd try to emulate singers I liked, to see what I could and could not do with my voice.” Ward says. What she could do became her own sound.  

Some people may remember Ward from her audition on The Voice. But she says that the experience left her confused and did nothing to advance her creative interests. When it was over, she went back to doing hair for a living, and it was almost a year before she even thought about doing music again. The Voice itself led her nowhere, but Lauren says, "it was the people I met, who I'm still close with, that told me I had something worthwhile." When she realized she was ready for a new career in a new place, she decided to move to LA, and now, she says, “my work is paying off, and I am very grateful. I feel like the same person. I've just been enjoying different experiences.”

Ward says she and Eduardo Rivera, her bandmate and writing partner, have a "special something up [their] sleeve" for a project that will be out this December. And she recently rerecorded "I Touch Myself" by The Divinyls with the original guitarist, Mark McEntee, and songwriter Billy Steinberg. She also will be featured on a Harry Nilsson tribute album. Both tracks will be released by the end of summer.

Lauren Ruth Ward will be performing at Brooklyn’s Elsewhere rooftop this Monday, July 23, 2018. Make sure to check out her live show. Ticket can be bought here.

Photo via flickr & credit to Justin Higuchi