Ana Popovic

Ana Popovic
Unconditional

Electro Groove (EGRCD513)

By David Wilson
December 2011

I am taking a flyer here, for this is not a recording of a kind of music to which I ordinarily would show much interest. The fact that the artist is young, (well, compared to me, who isn’t), female, and attractive does have an effect on me, though still not enough to make me want to praise it. Neither does the fact that the whole blues world seems to be on her bandwagon and she continues to accumulate commercial honor after commercial honor.

Even more, consider that I am not a big fan of distorted guitar riffs and flamboyant extremes and Ana is at home with both and uses them as well or better than most in the expression of her musical ideas as she careens back and forth along that blues corridor that bridges the gap between hard metallic rock and funky jazz.

So, it is with some trepidation that I find myself thinking that I do find this collection of material … interesting, and for a number of reasons . . .

First and foremost are the songs - seven of the 11 are written or co-written by Ana, with the title cut, Unconditional a serious contender for “standard” status. For someone whose English is a second language, Ana has no trouble finding the right words to economically describe universal states of being.

Variations on the love not so much lost as faded theme is echoed in “Reset Rewind” and again in “Business As Usual” where she sings,

Been there, felt that, and I suspect many of you have too.

The treatment of the Cannonball Adderly, Oscar Brown, Jr. “Work Song” is pedestrian and adds nothing to the original, but her treatment of the old war horse, “Soulful Dress” is up to date and sizzles more than any version since Sugar Pie DeSanto recorded it back in the ‘60s. I have no trouble listening to it over and over.

I cannot say the same for her styling on “Voodoo Woman,” and Koko Taylor’s claim to it remains safe.

Ana and her guitar are a unity. It speaks with her voice and her use of distorted notes and chords effectively expands her musical vocabulary. While many use distortion for shock value, and to cover up weakness, Ana uses it with discipline and restraint and in so doing adds a coherent passion to her performance.

I don’t think this is a uniformly great release, but there are brilliant moments in it that will make it a worthwhile addition to many a collector’s shelves.

Generous sample clips will help you determine if you are one of those and are available at http://www.eclectogroove.com/artists/anapopovic/unconditional/index.html

www.eclectogroove.com/artists/anapopovic/unconditional/

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