Ann Powers

Ann Powers appears in the following:

Songs We Love: Donnie Fritts, 'Errol Flynn'

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Donnie Fritts knows what it's like to be held in the silver shimmer of celluloid, and he's had years of experience playing wingman to a heartthrob. That's why "Errol Flynn," a song written by the cabaret raconteur Amanda McBroom for her actor father, David Bruce, works perfectly as the lead ...


The Making Of Jason Isbell's '24 Frames'

Monday, June 22, 2015

How does a song move from a notebook to your headphones? This behind-the-scenes video of Jason Isbell perfecting the song "24 Frames" — the first single from the new album Something More Than Free, and a song we at NPR Music loved the minute we heard it ...


First Listen: Joy Williams, 'VENUS'

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"I'm gonna stand here in the ache," Joy Williams wails in "Until The Levee," a song that comes just past the middle of the arc her new solo album, VENUS, creates. She seems to nearly strain her warm, urgent voice, which many came to love in Williams' early Christian-music ...


Songs We Love: Delta Rae, 'All Good People'

Friday, June 19, 2015

The obscenity of the crime that took nine lives in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday night is made all the more unbearable by its setting: one of the nation's landmark black churches, a holy space of resistance, resilience and hope. "Mother Emanuel" AME Church was also a site of music-making, with ...


Song Premiere: Lucero, 'Went Looking For Warren Zevon's Los Angeles'

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sometimes it takes a lot of freeway rambling to wind up back where you started. Ben Nichols and his bandmates in Lucero have been touring the indie rock circuit since 1998, when the band was just a bunch of Replacements-loving kids getting out of Memphis and ...


First Listen: Leon Bridges, 'Coming Home'

Sunday, June 14, 2015

When Leon Bridges sings, he often raises his arms in a chest-opening gesture that might resolve in a benediction or a finger snap. Like the music the 25-year-old Fort Worth soul sensation has carefully crafted for his debut, his signature move seems simple, but hold many meanings. It recalls the ...


Gill Landry, 'Funeral In My Heart'

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Gill Landry's quietly affecting video for "Funeral In My Heart," the unsentimental elegy that opens his third, self-titled solo album (out now on ATO Records), shows the Old Crow Medicine Show member traversing faded landscapes he's discovered while driving through his home state of Louisiana on U.S. Route 65. ...


12 Essential Archives For Internet-Era Music Historians

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Where do music historians go to find the sounds that shape the stories they tell? There are some obvious places, like the Library of Congress, whose National Jukebox offers more than ten thousand songs from the dawn of the modern age, or the Internet Archive, which ...


Digital Underground

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The music sharing platform imeem thrived from 2004 until its shuttering in 2009 as a safe haven in the wilds of the semi-legal Internet. It was Napster without the piracy, a legal space for music makers and fans to share bedroom composition, videos of their latest dance moves, and the ...


First Listen: Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, 'Django And Jimmie'

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Love your old uncles while you have them. Mine used to hang around near the drinks table at family gatherings, comparing the weird bumps growing on their ears, sharing jokes they'd learned in the Army, and blowing the kids away with stories culled from decades' worth of interesting exploits. Most ...


Rickie Lee Jones Embraces 'The Big Invisible'

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rickie Lee Jones needs no introduction. Seriously. The singer-songwriter is so elementally articulate, so gifted at grasping both the rawest and the most complicatedly cooked emotions in her compositions, that critical framing best comes after the experience of listening to her. But for anyone who is unaware: Jones ...


Songs We Love: Rayland Baxter, 'Yellow Eyes'

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Many musicians can craft about one-third of an excellent pop song. Some write beautiful bare melodies that drip into your head like honey into cake. Others are masters of tone, using genius arrangements and technical wizardry to craft a sound that transports, no matter the shape of the tune. Still ...


Shakey Graves, Lucinda Williams And Sturgill Simpson Lead Americana Awards Nominees

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The nominees for the 2015 Americana Honors and Awards were announced today at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. This year's slate shows how the definition of Americana is gently expanding to include more generationally, racially and stylistically diverse stars, while remaining grounded in its country-leaning, ...


Iris DeMent To Release New Album, 'The Trackless Woods'

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Maybe poetry will save us. It's a thought that occurs to many people who've fallen in love with the ancient form, in all its mysteriousness and immediacy. It doesn't matter whether the road into poems was a childhood encounter with "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost or a college ...


First Watch: Gangstagrass, 'Banks Of The Ohio'

Monday, May 11, 2015

Despite being grounded in images of wild hills and empty hollers, bluegrass has always been a sound of the city — a way for showmen and innovators to incorporate jazz and other new sounds into the songs their country daddies and mamas had taught them. Gangstagrass, the Brooklyn ensemble led ...


Songs We Love: Prince, 'Baltimore'

Saturday, May 09, 2015

In a sly way, Prince has always been a political artist. Like Marcel Duchamp upending the art world with his readymades, he stormed the pop scene courting controversy, but always with a wink. Like Bob Dylan throwing down signs in the video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues," he sent ...


Ashley Monroe, 'On To Something Good'

Monday, May 04, 2015

The book above which Ashley Monroe's big eyes peep in the first few seconds of this video is a volume of This Fabulous Century, a Time-Life book series published in 1969, organized around decades and celebrating pop-cultural fun from Charlie Chaplin movies to the Andrews Sisters to the ...


First Listen: Torres, 'Sprinter'

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Confessional" is a term often tossed around in discussions of singer-songwriters, but it's also one of the most misunderstood. In a recent interview, Mackenzie Scott, who makes music under the name Torres, called it "a four-letter word," common and pejorative, and overapplied to women in particular. But what does ...


Spirit Family Reunion's Unbroken Circle

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Will the circle be unbroken? The question is a fundamental one in the gospel music world. Taken from a hymn that's more than a century old, it helped grant an aura of holiness to country music when that genre's first family, the Carters, posed it in their own version and ...


First Listen: Alabama Shakes, 'Sound & Color'

Sunday, April 12, 2015

In the six years I've lived in the region, I've developed a mantra: Southern freaks are the best freaks. For me, the word "freak" can be both positive and downright spiritual. It describes serious individualists who are tolerant of others whose own paths may diverge from their own; people whose ...