Ann Powers

Ann Powers appears in the following:

First Listen: Neil Diamond, 'Melody Road'

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In 1989, the producer Don Was approached Neil Diamond about making a record. "'I called [him] and said, 'Neil, I think you're a rock 'n' roll artist, but you lost your way, and I know how to make it right,'" Was told a reporter in 2013. The two ...


The Dream Of Ridiculous Men

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The last short story Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote is about being seriously ridiculous. In "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man," an intellectual prone to existentialist despair is saved from suicide when, in a vision, he discovers a parallel planet where humanity has never sinned. "It was like being in love with ...


First Listen: Angaleena Presley, 'American Middle Class'

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The temptation when confronting a serious problem is to either cry it out or laugh it off. This is true in country music, as in life. Even the greatest songs about heavy subjects either diffuse the tension with jokes or go entirely maudlin, providing catharsis without true clarity. Angaleena Presley, ...


Roots, Plugged In

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When I put Jonah Tolchin's performance at Third Man Records on my schedule for Americana Fest, the annual gathering of roots-minded musicians that took over Nashville last week, I thought I was going to see a young artist playing old-timey music. Earlier this year, the 22-year-old New Jerseyite released an ...


First Listen: Leonard Cohen, 'Popular Problems'

Monday, September 15, 2014

Leonard Cohen is not a man for manifestos. Peripatetic bohemian, Montreal native, Zen meditator, diaspora Jew: Rock's almost-octogenarian philosopher emeritus inhabits identities that are multiple, contested, and resistant to orthodoxy. He is, however, willing to lay some things on the line. "I'm slowing down the tune, I never liked ...


An Emerging Voice Of Americana (And Oklahoma)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's a good time to be a young contender in Americana music. The term itself, in wide use since the Americana Music Association came into being in 1999, has always applied to traditional music that also makes room for other things, like rock and roll energy, singer-songwriter individualism, and even, ...


First Listen: Steelism, '615 To FAME'

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Asked to define the essential sound of classic country music, a fan might adjust the dictum Duke Ellington and lyricist Irving Mills once applied to jazz: "It don't mean a thang if it ain't got that twang." But twang — the instrumental equivalent of a Southern accent, a sweet-and-sour ...


First Listen: Robert Plant, 'Lullaby And... The Ceaseless Roar'

Monday, September 01, 2014

The Irish poet William Butler Yeats once famously evoked the drift of time through the image of old men gazing at their own watery reflections. "Everything alters, and one by one we drop away," Yeats' elders say as they themselves sit solidly at the shore. Robert Plant is ...


Taylor Swift Aims For Pop's Throne

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Erstwhile country singer Taylor Swift has a new sound and a new goal: to be the world's biggest pop star, with all the attention and provocation that comes with the job.


A Tale Of Two Polls

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two surveys claim to capture the public's view of the Common Core State Standards. But they tell very different stories.


Top 40 In A Summer Of Discontent

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Those of us who are lucky enough to be technologically interconnected are currently enduring an overwhelming summer of discontent. To say so is to wring the obvious from a cliché. The information so easily available now, jumping onto mobile screens in pulsing letters, makes age-old problems immediate. Racism. Conflicts over ...


Top Stories: Some Protests Turn Violent In Ferguson

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Good morning, here is our early story:

-- Fresh Clashes In Ferguson, Mo., As National Guard Arrives.

And here are more early headlines:

Report: Iraq Opens Effort To Retake Tiktrit From Militants. (Reuters)

Syrian Warplanes Strike Islamist Militants. (Al Jazeera)

Thousands Get Evacuation Calls Ahead Of California ...


First Listen: Shovels & Rope, 'Swimmin' Time'

Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's easy to feel the romance in the musical relationship between Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. In the five years since the married duo came upon the name Shovels & Rope to describe the music they make from whatever's lying around the house, the pair has become ...


First Listen: Imogen Heap, 'Sparks'

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"What does the story hold?" Imogen Heap sings tenderly and slightly quizzically in "Propeller Seeds," the closing track on her fourth solo album, Sparks. The English singer, songwriter and tech pioneer has taken three years to shape 14 songs that answer her question in utterly distinctive ways. The music ...


First Listen: Sinead O'Connor, 'I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss'

Sunday, August 03, 2014

As a songwriter, Sinead O'Connor connects her own life story to forces both historical and cosmic. Her 1987 debut, The Lion and the Cobra, included songs that challenged Ireland's favorite folk tales and tackled the legacy of Irish poet William Butler Yeats next to songs expressing post-adolescent lust and ...


East Nashville Rocks

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How do you know you are in East Nashville? Follow the beards, a current joker might say. If you do, you'll find yourself in an area tucked in between Nashville's neat downtown and the city's eastern edge, separated from each by the twisting Cumberland River. To the west, tourists flock ...


First Watch: Maddie & Tae, 'Girl In A Country Song'

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's starting to seem like even the bros are tired of bro country. The truck-loving Florida Georgia Line has switched up its game with the chart- dominant "Dirt," a sensitive ballad about marriage and farming. The fastest-rising summer songs are "Bartender," Lady Antebellum's ode to girls' ...


First Listen: Jenny Lewis, 'The Voyager'

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Nostalgia has no place for the woman traveling alone," the great travel writer Mary Morris once wrote. "Our motion is forward, whether by train or daydream." She's describing a necessary ruthlessness: Women are so often defined by their attachments (family, romance, even the fetishes of style) that becoming light enough ...


First Listen: Morrissey, 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business'

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The rhetorical essence of punk is the decision to say what others believe should not be said. It points out the "no" lurking within or near every "yes." It demands an ongoing reckoning with true outsiders, and with what remains wrong in society despite everyone's best efforts, simply ...


The Hits Of Yesterday And Today

Thursday, July 03, 2014

When the members of the NPR Music team gathered to nominate songs for our mid-year favorites list, we discovered something: Half of our favorite pop songs in the summer of 2014 were actually released in 2013. This wasn't a huge surprise. As Chris Molanphy explained in a column ...