There’s no need to convince blues fans anymore of the talent and showmanship of Ana Popovic. The Belgrade born and bred performer has been doing it on her own successfully for a while now, and most blues fans are finally more than aware of her ability. Since introduced to the blues at a very early age by her musician father, she has gone on to nurture her own ability into a sound and style that’s made her one of the hottest female blues performers on the scene today. Her flashy guitar chops and rousing original compositions, intensified by a provocative voice and stunning appearance, are traits that have attracted millions of fans internationally since 2002’s “Hush”, her first worldwide release. With that said, let’s look at her latest CD for 2009, “Blind For Love”.
Released on Electo Groove Records, Blind For Love was produced by Mark Dearnley (Def Leppard, AC/DC, Mother Love Bone, Paul McCartney, and Tom Petty) and Ana Popovic. No matter how one views Dearnley’s involvement, a guy known more for his pop music connection than blues, his participation definitely helped pave the way to a successful finished project. And it’s all about Popovic, proving more than ever that she’s not just another pretty face. She’s a contemporary blues performer of the utmost quality.
The rhythmic energy in the CD’s opener, “Nothing Personal”, is adamant throughout, especially Ana’s infectiously appealing vocal melody that starts the song at the get go. Her scorching guitar solo midway through is short and sweet, and awfully reminiscent of the rigidly plucked notes that Robert Cray is known for, those brisk and icy ones once created by the fingers of Albert Collins as well. She reprises the solo near the end. Ana appears to possess a firm rapport and harmonization with her background singers, as feminine vocal oomph is prominent throughout this one. The feisty vocal feature is standout in the following track as well, “Wrong Woman”. With a potent funky vibe to coerce it along, Ana pulls out all the stops in the solo near the song’s finish. She sears her way back into the main lyric line, “You’re messing with the wrong woman.” Any naysayer hearing this track for the first time will realize the truth in that statement.
She gets down and dirty in “Steal Me Away”, an amazing acoustic blues number that also contains a unique gospel flavoring in the backup vocal department. Next, her shift from straightforward blues into a contemporary ballad with “Blind For Love” is unanticipated, yet also a keen show of diversity. She triumphs in this opportunity to be as sultry and vocal savvy as she can get in the CD title song. She succeeds at this again in “The Only Reason”.
Though Ana utilizes many successful weapons in creating great songs, one in particular is her capacity to be extremely seductive and soulful, ala Sade mode. This is blatantly perceptible in “Part Of Me (Lullaby For Luuk)”. There’s also a very worldly ambiance in sound here, making it quite fashionable and addictive. That said, she’s at home and in her best place when downright bluesy and funky, as in “Lives That Don’t Exist”. Her wah-wah guitar effect fits the funky mode perfectly, as does the background horn section. She closes the album with a soulful slow blues in “Blues For M”. Though her guitar solo is superb, she’s absolutely killer in the vocal department, complete emotion throughout.
Ana and her regular touring band, along with members of the Phantom Blues Band, cook up an exciting batch of multi-flavored arrangements in Blind For Love. And although it’s all surrounded in a blues ambiance, additives of rock, gospel, soul, jazz, and funk are thrown into the mix, making the overall collection interesting, infectious, and colorfully contemporary.