Ana Popovic

Unconditional

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The modern blues world has its share of artists who excel in some areas but fall short in others. For example, someone who excels as a guitarist might be merely adequate as a singer; or, someone who excels as a songwriter might be merely an average singer and not play an instrument particularly well. But Ana Popovic is a triple threat: she is an excellent singer, an excellent guitarist, and an excellent songwriter. And her strength in all of those areas is evident on Unconditional. The native of Belgrade, Serbia (formerly Belgrade, Yugoslavia) includes one instrumental on this 2011 release: the intense "Slideshow," which gives her a chance to really let it rip on her electric guitar and show just how strong her chops are on that instrument. Popovic rocks aggressively hard on "Slideshow," and there is also plenty of hard-rocking intensity on "Count Me In" (a Popovic original) and Cora Taylor's "Voodoo Woman." Meanwhile, Popovic's love of classic soul comes through loud and clear on "Your Love Ain't Real," "Reset Rewind," and "Summer Rain" (all of which she either wrote or co-wrote). She is blues-oriented, but she has never claimed to be a purist or made any secret of her passion for rock, soul, and jazz, and speaking of jazz, she gives us a very pleasant surprise on a burning performance of Nat Adderley's "Work Song." The Adderley standard has often been performed as instrumental soul-jazz/hard bop, but the lyrics that Oscar Brown, Jr. wrote for "Work Song" have been performed by quite a few jazz vocalists; Popovic's version is unusual in that it rocks so hard, and isn't without an awareness of jazz, but she definitely adds plenty of blues-rock muscle to an Adderley classic. Listeners who have enjoyed Popovic's previous releases will find that her high standards are very much intact on the consistently absorbing Unconditional.

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