Ann Powers

Ann Powers appears in the following:

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 ...


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 ...


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, ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


'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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


From Ballads To Romps, Ashley Monroe's 'The Blade' Is Timeless

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers of NPR Music talk about the new album from Ashley Monroe called The Blade.


Watch Jenny Hval's Dreamlike, Experimental Video For 'Sabbath'

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fascination was the first emotion I felt when I heard Jenny Hval's music. The second was relief. That might be an unusual response to Hval's work, which is highly intimate, sexually explicit and abounding with startling images that reflect both her feminist view of the world and her ability to ...


The Cruel Truth About Rock And Roll

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Last week, a story about The Runaways' Jackie Fuchs, centered around her account of being raped by the late music entrepreneur Kim Fowley in a motel room full of people on New Year's Eve in 1975, challenged the very idea that rock and roll is something worth loving. ...


Songs We Love: Promised Land Sound, 'She Takes Me There'

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Not every reverie is a happy one. A title like "She Takes Me There" suggests the floating bliss of a new love, but in this new taste of what the rising Nashville band Promised Land Sound is up to on its second album, the dream is a haunting.

"Well I ...


First Listen: Alan Jackson, 'Angels And Alcohol'

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

A word for artists striving to make something timeless: Stop. People live within history. It provides particular tools, collaborators and ideas that even the most blinkered hermit can't really avoid. But if you want to make art that feels timeless, integrating its sources so well that they seem to arise ...


Why Films About Musicians Leave So Much Music Off Screen

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

For anyone more interested in Amy Winehouse's music than in her martyrdom, the most shocking images in Asif Kapadia's new documentary Amy may not be the ones showing her strung out and terrifyingly thin at the end of her short life, nor those capturing her turn ...


The Key To Kacey Musgraves' Hard-Won Country: Funny Women

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The witty musician sits in a sweet spot where her charm and humor attract traditional country die-hards and pop fans alike. Ann Powers explores other women in country who paved the path.


First Listen: Anderson East, 'Delilah'

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

If they're lucky, talented and charismatic, young musical men in Nashville can find themselves playing a game of musical Let's Make A Deal. Behind Door No. 1 is a truck, a beer cooler and a lady in snug jeans; the challenge is to make anything out of these party-anthem ingredients ...