Ann Powers

Ann Powers appears in the following:

Songs We Love: Aubrie Sellers, 'Loveless Rolling Stone'

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Charlie Rich called them life's little ups and downs, but the details that animate country music are often more ambiguous twists and turns. What happens in the most memorable songs is not always tragic, and not always out of the teller's control. This is especially true when it comes to ...

Comment

First Listen: Donnie Fritts, 'Oh My Goodness'

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Life would have no dimension if everyone occupied the center of the frame. We need those folks on the side and in the background; the ones who hold up the proceedings while adding clever and often profound asides. For more than 50 years, Donnie Fritts has moved freely in ...

Comment

Songs We Love: David Ramirez, 'Rock And A Hard Place'

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It's not easy for a writer to maintain the aura of the unspoken in a song. Music and the space surrounding it intensify the impact of confession; the true challenge comes in giving voice to a narrator who's tongue-tied, or simply reticent. Texas singer-songwriter David Ramirez does so beautifully in ...

Comment

Rhiannon Giddens, Patty Griffin And Shakey Graves—A Musical Conversation

Friday, September 25, 2015

"I think songs can have different lives," said Rhiannon Giddens in the conversation that flowed throughout NPR Music's "Songs We Love: Americana Fest Edition" panel on September 16 at Nashville's historic RCA Victor Studio A. "Each song has its own way that it likes to be done, but it ...

Comment

No Blank Space, Baby: Taylor Swift Is The Soul Of Ryan Adams

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Adams' 1989 recognizes a rock lineage born of a woman. He's not legitimizing Swift's work – he's figuring out how her voice can validate and include his.

Comment

Feel The Power Of Living History With Two Gospel Quartets

Sunday, September 20, 2015

So much history is contained in the intertwined harmonies of The Fairfield Four and The McCrary Sisters. Together, these groups form a link to one of America's greatest singing traditions — that of the gospel quartet, which flourished at the center of sacred music in the early to mid-20th ...

Comment

Robyn Hitchcock Salutes Gillian Welch And David Rawlings

Friday, September 18, 2015

Gala event tribute speeches are often so much fluff—in the right hands, however, they ascend to the level of the poetic. On Wednesday night in Nashville, Robyn Hitchcock's paean to his longtime friends and collaborators Gillian Welch and David Rawlings hit that high mark. Handing them a Lifetime Achievement prize ...

Comment

AmericanaFest Preview: Lucette, Whitey Morgan, Oh Pep! And More

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

NPR Music is in Nashville all this week for the 16th annual AmericanaFest. So the newest episode of All Songs Considered offers a big bundle of music from some of the acts who are playing the festival that the team is most excited to see. Before leaving D.C., Bob called ...

Comment

Songs We Love: 2015 Americana Awards Edition

Monday, September 14, 2015

Every style of music produces great songs: even in genres like house or rap, better known for ecstatic mixes and freestyle flows, songs are the going units of measurement. But Americana music lovers are the hierophants of great songwriting, bearing deep knowledge of the bardic traditions of country, folk and ...

Comment

First Listen: Darlene Love, 'Introducing Darlene Love'

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Darlene Love is irrepressible. When the 73-year-old voice of 1960s girl-group primary texts like "He's A Rebel" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" accepted the 2013 Academy Award for the background-singer documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, in which she starred, she stole the moment from director Morgan Neville by ...

Comment

First Listen: Maddie & Tae, 'Start Here'

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

People on the cusp of maturity get called a lot of things. They're juveniles when they're in trouble, teenagers when they're having fun, adolescents when they're at the therapist's office, young adults when they're reading or going to see a movie based on a favorite book. As for pop music, ...

Comment

Songs We Love: Aaron Lee Tasjan, 'E.N.S.A.A.T.' (East Nashville Song About A Train)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Like Brooklyn and Northeast Los Angeles, East Nashville is a bohemian stronghold with an army of newcomers threatening its foundation. I'm one of those newbies, and every day I marvel at the creativity and plain love shared by the musicians who live here. But I also understand that gentrification is ...

Comment

Songs We Love: Bottle Rockets, 'Monday (Everytime I Turn Around)'

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Have you been waiting for the return of the Bottle Rockets? If you love indie-minded roots music, you have — even if you're not familiar with the veteran St. Louis band. Since the mid-1990s, Bottle Rockets bard Brian Henneman and his shifting ensemble of compadres (drummer Mark Ortmann is a ...

Comment

First Listen: Grace Potter, 'Midnight'

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

All hail pop rock! Few categories in contemporary music are more maligned, yet what resides within this one can be tremendously energizing, adventurous and fun. The term "pop rock" affixes itself to all kinds of things — new-wave songs by women celebrating the weekend, like the Go-Go's "We Got The ...

Comment

Dolly In Nashville: Authenticity That Makes Room For Rhinestones

Monday, August 03, 2015

When the renowned radio personality and Grand Ole Opry fixture Bill Cody walked onto the stage at the Ryman Auditorioum to welcome Dolly Parton there for the first time in twelve years, he called her "the most beloved artist of all time." Then he quickly, almost imperceptibly, corrected ...

Comment

Watch Low-Key Country Supergroup Traveller's Charming Video For 'Western Movies'

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What I like in a songwriter is a sense of adventure. Key to keeping that spirit alive is collaboration — and in Nashville, artists are constantly connecting in new and delightful ways. It's a regular part of the working musician's life, but sometimes it yields particularly charming results. When the ...

Comment

'I Love The Truth': Ashley Monroe In Conversation

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Before we took the stage for an interview before her First Listen Live performance at WNYC's The Greene Space, Ashley Monroe and I did what two people who've just met often do: We chatted about the weather. A Southern-style heat wave had descended upon Manhattan, and it was messing a ...

Comment

Watch Ashley Monroe Perform Live In Concert

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ashley Monroe is so much more than a Tennessee lark. At 28, she's a seasoned songwriter and performer who has worked in many different musical modes, from classic country to bluegrass to bluesy rock and roll to power pop. Leading her hot band in this First Listen Live performance at ...

Comment

Songs We Love: Lizz Wright, 'River Man'

Monday, July 27, 2015

Nick Drake's music is catnip to a certain kind of artist. Melodically pristine and rhythmically complex in quiet ways, the small songbook of the late English singer-songwriter offers interpreters a chance to be enchanting without stretching much. Yet to make Drake's songs new is a challenge. His vocal ...

Comment

Drive By-Truckers To Release Massive Live Album

Monday, July 27, 2015

A great concert is an occasion to tell stories that, as it unfolds, becomes a story unto itself. The members of Drive-By Truckers have been spinning tall and real tales since 1996, with the band's core partnership of singers/songwriters/guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood dating to nine years ...

Comment