Spirited new singer, Lauren Ruth Ward, is coming to perform at Stage-One at the Fairfield Theatre Company, in downtown Fairfield on April 27. Ward just released her album “Well, Hell,” where she merges her incredible vocals with barefaced passion to craft a modernized version of old-school rock. “Well, Hell” exhibits her fervent genuineness through personal content and varying moods. I had the opportunity to contact Ward and gain some insight regarding tour life, her artistry and her personal life.
“Well, Hell” displays Ward’s versatility through her impressive melodies and octaves. When asked about the inspiration behind the album, Ward responded, “Many many things [inspired this album]. Discovering my sexuality. The ups and downs of my move to LA and leaving a career and life I loved. My long distance relationship, my past relationship. Realizations about my upbringings, both pros and cons, my parents. It’s a lot. All good stuff, though. Just life, life stuff ya know? I feel like I am going through what everyone is going through or went through at some point in their lives.” These various inspirations, along with her passionate vocals, preserve the freshness of each song. Ward’s unique story provides another layer of depth to an already excellent album.
As a former hairdresser who openly expresses her homosexuality, Ward has proudly established her own artistic identity. She incorporates 1970s style and culture into her music and everyday life. While she has drawn comparisons to the legendary Janis Joplin, Ward’s music results from a variety of influences, “Nelly Furtado and Michelle Branch were two of many childhood inspirations that inspired me to start playing guitar around 13. Around that time, I also listened to Mirah, Elliott Smith, Le Tigre, loads of emo folk and screamo. Also classics like Jackson 5, Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters… I was all over the place, still kind of am. I also loved Robyn. I remember when I was around 10, my mom asked me to sing my favorite Robyn songs to my aunts and their friends. My favorite to sing to them was an acapella song called “I Wish,” the thirteenth track off of [Robyn’s] first album, ‘Robyn is Here.’”
Ward explained to me how she balances her work and personal life. “I go to 3-7 shows a week. I love to sew, knit and crochet. I am very organized. Most Sunday nights, I go dancing at a club in Echo Park that plays disco music. I need bananas and sweet potatoes to survive.” While bananas and sweet potatoes fuel Ward through her day-to-day life, her highly-engaging and physically draining concerts require a little more preparation: “My mentality is to make sure we’re all comfortable and ready. I think of my band, the crowd and myself. I’ll make sure my band has water and, if they’re drinking that night, make sure they’ve got a drink, give them their set lists, etc. If we’re doing a deaf accessible show, I make sure deaf audience members have made it to the designated area so Caroline, our interpreter, is viewable. I also love to make eye contact with the crowd before starting, and during, the show. Then I’ll make sure I’m ready. My guitars/pedal, my drink, my wardrobe, etc.”
Ward’s concerts have a reputation for being memorable as her enthusiasm creates a turbulent atmosphere. The explosiveness of her erratic shows parallel the key components of “Well, Hell.” Ward explains that the album’s opening track is her favorite to perform, “My band’s harmonies in the beginning make me feel protected, makes me feel like we’re all there for each other and excited to play together. Also, the overall groovy vibe of the song makes me feel like it’s 1969.”
Ward’s upcoming tour will initially feel slightly different. Her new bassist, Dean, was an initial band member and he replaces Ward’s dear friend, Liv Slingerland, who departed the band on good terms. The band will also benefit from wardrobe and visual changes. Despite these adjustments, Ward is psyched, “There is a great deal of heavy positive emotion when we perform. I got so worked up by that energy during our show last week in Las Vegas for Emerge. I cried a little from the build up. I am so ready to feel that again in places I’ve never been… like Fairfield.”