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Ana Popovic - Unconditional

Delta Groove Records

12 Tracks 49:57

Ana Popovic is so close to making it really big. This CD, which is the latest in a string of albums, is the one that might well break her in to the big time arena occupied by the BIG names of contemporary blues music. Although Ana and her band have made a string of close to a dozen CDs and DVDs, and she and the band have received a slew of nominations, until now she has (with one exception the 2004 win of the award Jazz à Juan Revelation in Juan-les-Pins, France) had to settle for second place; nominations but no wins. This one, I predict, is the one that will see Ana and her colleagues achieve massive success.

The album is stunningly good, without a single poor track in it and with Ana’s exemplary axe work well to the fore. Her singing voice, which despite her Yugoslav (Serb) background, and with English as a foreign language, is all but accent less, and her feel for the blues genre in her delivery is flawless, reminding me of kind of amalgam of Janice Joplin and Grace Slick (anyone remember her?).

If the CD has a flaw, which is a dubious hypothesis any way, it is that Ana seems unable to leave the pedal board alone…on the other hand, she uses effects with skull and panache and IMHO to the extent that they adversely affect the music.

The music itself? Well it ranges from the opener Fearless a nice little shuffle in the Texas tradition featuring a cleaver lyric and some terrific support from the band. Count Me In is a fiery upbeat stomp with some super axe work. The delicious Slide Show features Ana with slide ace Sonny Landreth and Ana holds her own with her own slide work with a bunch of scorching licks albeit without (I think) the behind the slide fingering that is such an amazing feature of Landreth’s playing.

The weakest track is Summer Rain which is too ‘poppy’ for my taste, but the outstanding track is Mercy Dee Walton’s (this is the only cover on the CD) One Room Country Shack, which Ana does real justice to adding a modern feel to a traditional piano based blues which will make many want to hear the original. A very fitting tribute to Mr Walton.

I short this is a great CD that is strongly recommended to any and all. Thank you Ana.

Reviewer Ian McKenzie is a Brit Living in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South a monthly publication giving info on news, gigs and reviews of events and CDs for the south if England. Ian has two blues radio shows one broadcast on Phonic FM in the UK (12 noon Central, 6pm UK) on on Wednesdays and the second airing on KCOR (Kansas City On Line Radio) on Fridays (12 noon Central, 6pm UK)

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