Ann Powers

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.

One of the nation's most notable music critics, Powers has been writing for The Record, NPR's blog about finding, making, buying, sharing and talking about music, since April 2011.

Powers served as chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times from 2006 until she joined NPR. Prior to the Los Angeles Times, she was senior critic at Blender and senior curator at Experience Music Project. From 1997 to 2001 Powers was a pop critic at The New York Times and before that worked as a senior editor at the Village Voice. Powers began her career working as an editor and columnist at San Francisco Weekly.

Her writing extends beyond blogs, magazines and newspapers. Powers co-wrote Tori Amos: Piece By Piece, with Amos, which was published in 2005. In 1999, Power's book Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America was published. She was the editor, with Evelyn McDonnell, of the 1995 book Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop and the editor of Best Music Writing 2010.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, Powers went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of California.

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The Record
8:17 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Roots, Plugged In

Jonah Tolchin performs at Grimey's in Nashville during the Americana Music Festival on Sept. 20.
Erika Goldring Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 8:10 am

When I put Jonah Tolchin's performance at Third Man Records on my schedule for Americana Fest, the annual gathering of roots-minded musicians that took over Nashville last week, I thought I was going to see a young artist playing old-timey music. Earlier this year, the 22-year-old New Jerseyite released an album, Clover Lane, that gently ranges from countryish ballads to uptempo numbers with a country blues feel.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

First Listen: Leonard Cohen, 'Popular Problems'

Leonard Cohen's new album, Popular Problems, comes out Sept. 23.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 7:41 am

Leonard Cohen is not a man for manifestos. Peripatetic bohemian, Montreal native, Zen meditator, diaspora Jew: Rock's almost-octogenarian philosopher emeritus inhabits identities that are multiple, contested, and resistant to orthodoxy. He is, however, willing to lay some things on the line. "I'm slowing down the tune, I never liked it fast," he intones over a burlesque blues line in the first track on his 13th studio album, Popular Problems. "You want to get there soon; I want to get there last."

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The Record
6:00 am
Thu September 11, 2014

An Emerging Voice Of Americana (And Oklahoma)

Samantha Lamb Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 10:50 am

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First Listen
1:00 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

First Listen: Robert Plant, 'Lullaby And... The Ceaseless Roar'

Robert Plant's new album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar, comes out Sept. 9.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 6:55 am

The Irish poet William Butler Yeats once famously evoked the drift of time through the image of old men gazing at their own watery reflections. "Everything alters, and one by one we drop away," Yeats' elders say as they themselves sit solidly at the shore.

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The Record
12:35 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Taylor Swift Aims For Pop's Throne

A still from the video for "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 8:52 am

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The Record
6:34 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Top 40 In A Summer Of Discontent

A still from the video for "Am I Wrong" by Nico & Vinz.
YouTube

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 9:54 am

To hear Ann Powers talk with NPR's Audie Cornish about some of the songs that might define the troubling summer of 2014, click the audio link on this page.

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First Listen
8:03 pm
Sun August 17, 2014

First Listen: Shovels & Rope, 'Swimmin' Time'

Shovels & Rope's new album, Swimmin' Time, comes out Aug. 26.
Leslie Ryan McKellar Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 11:58 am

It's easy to feel the romance in the musical relationship between Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst.

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First Listen
8:03 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

First Listen: Imogen Heap, 'Sparks'

Imogen Heap's new album, Sparks, comes out Aug. 19.
Jeremy Cowart Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 9:15 am

"What does the story hold?" Imogen Heap sings tenderly and slightly quizzically in "Propeller Seeds," the closing track on her fourth solo album, Sparks. The English singer, songwriter and tech pioneer has taken three years to shape 14 songs that answer her question in utterly distinctive ways.

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First Listen
8:14 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

First Listen: Sinead O'Connor, 'I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss'

Sinead O'Connor's new album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss, comes out Aug. 12.
Donal Moloney Courtesy of the artist

As a songwriter, Sinead O'Connor connects her own life story to forces both historical and cosmic. Her 1987 debut, The Lion and the Cobra, included songs that challenged Ireland's favorite folk tales and tackled the legacy of Irish poet William Butler Yeats next to songs expressing post-adolescent lust and hesitancy about the singer's impending fame.

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The Record
8:34 am
Tue July 29, 2014

East Nashville Rocks

Andrija Tokic in his East Nashville studio, The Bomb Shelter.
Joshua Shoemaker Courtesy of the artist

How do you know you are in East Nashville? Follow the beards, a current joker might say. If you do, you'll find yourself in an area tucked in between Nashville's neat downtown and the city's eastern edge, separated from each by the twisting Cumberland River. To the west, tourists flock to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium — the "Mother Church of Country Music." The Opryland complex — the venerable stage and radio show's comfortably suburban home since 1974 — is to the east, where the city sprawls into malls, hotels and tourists attractions.

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