ZZ Ward at Trees
Just to look at her, you wouldn't peg Pennsylvania native ZZ Ward (born Zsuzsanna Ward) as anything remotely like the hip-hop and pop fusionist her debut album reveals her to be. But as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover, and indeed, her grimly titled freshman effort, Til the Casket Drops, surprises with its nimble blend of Ward's mournful lyrics, brassy vocals and a chaotic mixture of retro soul grooves and modern rap bravado. It's heart-on-the-sleeve pop drawn in shades of a tough girl from the wrong side of town. With Larry g(EE) and Yellow Red Sparks.
8 p.m. Dec. 5. Trees, Dallas. $10-$12.
Bettye LaVette at Kessler Theater
Rare is the artist who can make it 50 years in the ruthless, tumultuous music business. Rarer still is the artist who can, after making it that far, enjoy some of the best reviews, warmest crowds and most sustained accolades for her art, but vocalist Bettye LaVette is that artist. Her latest LP, Thankful N' Thoughtful, reflects her understanding of her exceptional position. It's full of the songs that have endeared LaVette to critics and fans alike, rendered with her wise, well-worn voice and a keen understanding of the intersection between R&B, soul and gospel. To see her in a room such as the Kessler is a singular -- and yes, rare -- treat for North Texas music fans. With Bobby Patterson.
8 p.m. Thursday. Kessler Theater, Dallas. $25-$35.