Title - 'Blue Room' (ArtisteXclusive Records)
Artist - Ana & Milton PopoviŠ
It took ten years for Ana PopoviŠ - a Memphis, Tennessee-based Serbian blues guitarist and singer - to convince her father, Milton to record an album together! Word has it she tried many ways, many suggestive ebbs and flows throughout that decade to persuade the man to record with her. And yet, come the end, it was six words that finally convinced him to record with his daughter: "Just do it for your grandchildren"!
Here on the highly impressive collaborative album, Blue Room - which was also produced by Jim Gaines (Luther Alison, Neville Brothers, Eric Gales, Albert Collins, George Thorogood, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughan) - the father and daughter duo illustrate a daringly playful side on a powerful Blues record that presents a soulful fusion of contemporary and classic blues.
And what of this so-called "Blue Room," I hear you ask? Well, musically, this album evokes Ana's childhood memories of the place she grew up in with her father. A small, secluded, and yet modest 11th floor apartment, partly cramped with amps and guitars, the New Belgrade, Serbia flat was where her love for music began.
For it was there that her fathers impressive blues and soul vinyl collection first took the ear of a young Ana. Indeed, more than that, it was where her introduction to en masse of evenings with her parents' friends, and her dad on his guitar playing songs at house parties and jam sessions, that importantly also showcased to her how both music and performing came together. Something that she has kept close to her heart ever since, and has taken and made into an art form.
The first track, Robert Petway's 'Catfish Blues' is a great way to kick off the album, and instantly takes you back to those Deep South Bayou days, before papa takes lead on John Lennon's 'I'm Losing You.' The melodic, mid-tempo flow of 'Evening Shadows' (Van Morrison/Acker Bilk) is next, and is backed by the American Folk Blues of both 'Grant Spivey' (Victoria Regina Spivey, William Thomas Dupree)and then the harder edge of John Brannen's 'Somebody.' Led by Milton - a photographer and printing technician by trade - that, in turn, is followed by the slow Blues jam of 'Did Somebody Make a Fool out of You.'
And if you think you're listening to something akin to Eric Clapton guitar work on that latter track, well, both he and Tony Joe White covered the very same track back in the day. But listening to both Ana and Milton do it justice on Blue Room, it's as if Slowhand was right there in the room with them. For the record, the great Buddy Guy also did rather a great version of it also, of course. The age spinning storytelling of 'We Used to Know' (Ian Anderson) is next, and is backed by the Tony Joe White (and also Brook Benton) classic, 'Rainy Night in Georgia.'
Classified as a blues player, Ana can obviously rock when needed, for together with some smokey Blues piano backing them, both family members cut loose on the Sonny Terry/Brownie McGhee (and more recently, Blake Shelton) track, 'Red River Blues.' This quite brilliant album is then finally rounded out by the footstompin', hand clappin' jive of Jimmy Reed's 'Baby What's Wrong,' with the slow burn combination of vocals and guitars on John Lee Hooker's 'Tupelo' bringing the album to a close.
In truth, this new CD is a very refreshing set of tunes. Ana is certainly a great talent with great vocals and instrumentals to boot, but here with her father she also seems more relaxed, has more fun with her vocals, and the chords played therein. Ergo, Blues Room spotlights her growth and maturity as an artist, emphasizing her sensual vocals and masterful guitar alongside the man who first taught her to love music.
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