Ana Popovic – Power
While some reviewers sing the praises of Serbian performer Ana Popovic’s jazziness & “blues” I hear a more soulful artist here. More Boz Scaggs-Robert Palmer than a hard-nosed blues ax player (Buddy Guy). Her guitar does showcase blues expertise, but the music/vocals aren’t so much blues as soul. Evidenced in “Power Over Me,” — a strong performance, gutsy.
There may be a Stevie Ray Vaughn approach but it’s more decorative. Even “Doin’ This,” is a soulful strut with an underlining organ & Ana’s energetic vocals. Blues isn’t fast-tempo-groove music. It usually deals with melancholy, cheating, loneliness, scraping the bottom, down & out lives. Ana does bend genres which at least shows ingenuity. She isn’t a menu follower.
The 40-minute 11-track Power (Drops May 5–ArtisteXclusive Records) was produced by Ana & bassist/bgv singer Buthel Burns. The guitar punctuates impressively, but it leans into 60s soul music more than anything remotely blues. Most importantly, it’s all likable & entertaining.
Ms. Popovic does sing with emotion & feeling, however, the jazz licks are few since the music is solidly saturated in soulful arrangements. Ana’s voice succeeds on each & at times even cruises into a song that invests in a more lounge-lizard easy listening style – where the jazz suggestion develops (“Deep Down” is cool) & “Recipe Is Romance,” good suave delicate jazz song guitar-wise, but horns render it soulful not jazzy.
The song titles don’t emit a blues tinge. “Luv’n Touch,” that’s not a blues title. Pure horn-based pop & a potent commercially oriented effort. Ana plays excellently (all guitars) with interesting, optimistic sounds but this CD is not traditional blues. She comes close to “Turn My Luck” with a Bonnie Raitt spirit.
Some tunes tread the soulful domain of Genya Ravan (Ten Wheel Drive). Thick rhythm & blues approach with horns & a rambunctious vocal. Ana lights a groove fuse on “Strong Taste,” but this too, ain’t the blues. Not Tracy Nelson or Karen Lawrence blues. It has a more soulful score with funky guitar. It is a winning performance.
Ana’s vocal is always expressive & the riveting savvy guitar runs squeeze the tight melodies. She’s strongest & most soulful on “Flicker ‘n Flame.” That smokes wonderfully. Now I’m not saying Ana isn’t a blues slinger, she is – it’s just that this set tilts toward soul.
Highlights – “Power Over Me,” “Luv’n Touch,” “Strong Taste,” “Recipe Is Romance,” “Deep Down,” “Ride It” “Turn My Luck” & “Flicker ‘n Flame.”
Some musicians – Chris Coleman (drums), Brandon Bland (Hammond organ), Joe Foster (rhythm guitar), Michele Papadia (keys), Claudio Hiovagnoli (sax), Davide Ghidoni (trumpet), Mark Mullins (trombone/horn arrangements), Brad Walker (tenor sax), Bobby Campo (trumpet), Tasha Parker, Noel Burns & Jerry Kelley (bgv) & Jeff Bates (string arrangements).
First color image from Ana’s Facebook. 2nd image with leather skirt courtesy of Adam Zegarmistrz. CD @ https://anapopovic.com/home