Album Review: Ana Popović — Power

Artists change; their artistry evolves over time. Some chart a path that’s consistent; others follow a progression that’s better described as linear. Others bounce around from style to style, with the path only clear when it’s viewed in retrospect.

Ana Popović (previously interviewed on Musoscribe here and here) got her start as a blues guitar shredder. More than two decades ago when she made her solo debut with Hush!, listeners were presented with a fiery guitarist who could sing, and who had undeniably arresting visual character. Let’s just say that Ana Popović doesn’t look like your standard-issue blues guitarist, and that her spiky heels and slinky outfits leverage her assets in that regard.

But Popović has done a commendable job of establishing and maintaining her bona fides as a blues practitioner. Close your eyes if you must, and you can appreciate her expressive musical qualities.

It hasn’t always been blues, though; her 2016 set Trilogy explored other styles (including hip hop[!]), and Popović sounds increasingly comfortable embarking upon these musical excursions. Now in 2023, Power threatens to use the blues as little more than a foundational touchstone; the music has more to do with r&b, soul and pop than anything else.

Blues purists (aka the Blues Police) forsook the Serbian- born and -raised Popović (if they ever accepted her at all) long ago. Power isn’t likely to win them back, but the loss is theirs. Taken for what it is, Popović’s latest release is a modern collection of songcraft, with fiery blues-inspired guitar work at its core. Here solos fit seamlessly into the big, brassy (metaphorically and otherwise) arrangements, and her vocals bear little if any trace of her Eastern European language inflections.

It’s worth noting that Popović’s pre-solo career had her leading a band called Hush, and that group was far from a traditional blues outfit. Hush played r&b, soul and fun. With that in mind – and factoring in her entire career arc to date – Power can be viewed, from a certain angle at least, as a kind of return to form.

The press kit for Power emphasizes that the record is a collection of thematically-linked songs that deal with it describes as “a tale of survival.” It’s all slickly packaged, but slick does not always connote soulless. Listeners who don’t know the intricacies and details of that story (the phrase cancer diagnosis figures into it) are left only with the music itself, and as pop played by a top-flight musician goes, it’s fine indeed.

Power hits shelves on May 5. In the meantime, no less than three singles from the album – “Turn My Luck,” “Recipe is Romance” and “Strong Taste” are out now.