Ann Powers

Ann Powers appears in the following:

An Outsider Remakes Nashville's Traditional Sound

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

If Dave Cobb gets excited while you're talking to him about music, he'll grab a guitar from the bank of them he keeps in the chill-out room in his Green Hills home studio and play a riff. It could be from an Elvis song, or one by Led Zeppelin, or ...


Ann Powers' Favorite Albums Of 2015

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

I guess my favorite spiritually generated cliché is: Life is change. It's a noble tenet of Buddhism and a tenet of existentialism that no matter how much we cling to a comfortable belief about reality, a turn of events can quickly demolish it. More commonly, circumstances and habits reshape reality ...


Songs We Love: Paul Burch, 'Meridian'

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Revivalism in music often seems to be no more than a matter of style: a perfectly greased pompadour, a well-pressed rack of vintage dresses, some vintage equipment and the careful mimicry of a particular "hi-de-ho" or drawl. It's the rare living musician who does the extra work to comprehend the ...


Songs We Love: Childbirth, 'Let's Be Bad'

Monday, November 23, 2015

Childbirth is a Seattle rock supergroup, but it's also an ongoing consciousness-raising session. Okay, it's really a comedy act. No, it's a punk band. Wait, it's a feminist direct-action project deflating sexism with joke-arrows hurled at ubiquitous oppressions like male microaggression, fertility anxiety, and tyrannical beauty standards. Actually, Childbirth — ...


You've Got A Home: June Millington's Lifelong Journey In Rock

Thursday, November 19, 2015

In East Nashville, right at the center of the neighborhood's musically-driven hubbub, a Victorian-style corner building houses a popular gathering place. Fanny's House of Music is homey, with a hand-painted sign out front and a porch for lounging. Inside, one alcove contains vintage clothing, local artists' paintings and kitschy knickknacks, ...


Songs We Love: Vince Gill, 'Take Me Down'

Thursday, November 19, 2015

These days, for many people in country music's mainstream — and beyond it — the genre's version of "sexy" is corny. Rump-shaking dudes in man buns beckoning women who frankly feel a little harassed into their flatbed Fords ... At their worst, country's 21st-century dreamboats operate on the principles of ...


New Album Of Previously Unheard Jeff Buckley Recordings To Be Released

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The album You and I, due in March, is made up of songs recorded in Buckley's very first studio sessions after signing to Columbia Records, and displays the singer's wide range of influences.


Songs We Love: Seratones, 'Necromancer'

Thursday, November 05, 2015

No space is quite as rife with liminal magic as a Louisiana cemetery. Peter Fonda took his famous Easy Rider acid trip in the famous St. Louis cemetery in New Orleans, where tour guides now lead tourists in search of the grave of 19th-century voudou practitioner Marie Laveau. Sally ...


First Listen: Chris Isaak, 'First Comes The Night'

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Chris Isaak's voice is a bit like the Tardis in Dr. Who. Sturdy but nimble, always recognizable, it moves through pop's time-space continuum, transporting listeners to different vantage points while in pursuit of certain eternal questions. Though most haunted by and profiting from an association with Roy Orbison's ...


Songs We Love: Josh Abbott Band, 'Ghosts'

Monday, November 02, 2015

What kind of musician makes a concept album? The stereotype might be that this is the domain of a prog rocker or George Clinton-style funk master in a satin cape; but in fact, long-players with unified themes have always been popular in country music. Willie Nelson's Western noir ...


Songs We Love: The Mavericks, 'Pardon Me'

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

So many road anthems pave the history of popular music. Some make poetry of the white lines on the freeway; others floridly celebrate rock and roll fugitives riding the arena circuit on their steel mounts. "Pardon Me," one of the loveliest tracks on the inexhaustibly fun, Americana ...


One For The Ages

Monday, October 19, 2015

There's a point in most published interviews with Joanna Newsom where the harpist, singer and songwriter genially pulls the switch on her interlocutor's train of thought. She'll gently say that interpretation belongs to her fans: They have the right to unpack them, to argue endlessly in chat rooms ...


Songs We Love: Corb Lund, 'Sadr City'

Thursday, October 08, 2015

It's tough, in 2015, for a singer-songwriter to be an all-around talent. Artists make their mark on distracted fans with a signature sound, a look, or maybe even a mood. But the journeyman's knowledge of how to move from a gut-wrenching story to a zinger of a joke, how to ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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.


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 ...


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 ...