Review: Ana Popovic’s Pop/Blues Dominates ‘Power’

Ana Popovic
3 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

It’s noteworthy when a blues icon like Luther Allison aids in getting a new artist signed. That’s how blues/pop guitarist Ana Popovic’s career began and, starting with Ruf label’s debut (2001), she hasn’t slowed down.

Initially a blues guitarist/singer with pop leanings, Popovic has over the decades embraced an increasingly more commercial slant, becoming a pop performer with blues inclinations. That culminates in this varied and slick set, her first studio recording since 2018 and after a 2020 breast cancer diagnosis.

Popovic’s previous release found her collaborating with Keb’ Mo’ on a crossover-friendly collection, working territory similar to Mo’s breezy blues and soul groove. She moves further into pop terrain on these eleven songs, many boasting danceable beats and a neo-soul slant. Deeper blues fans will likely find this a few bridges too far from their chosen genre, though Popovic’s incisive guitar solos infuse roots stylings into some generally fluffy and smooth tunes.


Occasional horns, especially noticeable in the funky “Ride It,” inject a more robust attack, something this collection could use more of, on this slice of bubbling Memphis-influenced greasy soul. Hints of a harder edge appear in “Queen of the Pack,” but the relentlessly thumping, near-disco, drums are a liability only Popovic’s gritty guitar solo helps pull off the overly-marketable ledge. She drives into a John Lee Hooker boogie on “Strong Taste” that seems it could explode in concert, adding tougher blues licks to a melody that’s partially sunk by glossy production.

Popovic goes samba for the romantic “Recipe is Romance,” but the shiny pop ditty sounds like an outtake from Captain & Tennille that should have been left on the cutting room floor despite an impressive jazzy solo.

Things improve markedly on closing selections where the vibe gets rowdy with a molten Hendrix-influenced solo (that ends too quickly) on the pumping Pretenders-styled blues rocker, “Flicker & Flame.” The stomping tale of a gambler in “Turn My Luck,” also connects, somewhat referencing Larkin Poe’s gutsy acoustic slide approach.

Popovic is in powerful, supple voice which helps even the glossier titles connect. And considering the serious health issues she was facing, just creating this is a major accomplishment. But much of Power feels forced; a generally well-intentioned yet misguided attempt to widen an audience at the expense of her veteran status and proven guitar skills.

But don’t let this occasionally disappointing album dissuade you from seeing Popovic live where she consistently delivers the blues rocking goods with spirited authority.  

Photo by Brian Rasic

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