Larkin Poe are sisters, Rebecca & Megan Lovell. They first started out in 2005 and created a bluegrass band called “The Lovell Sisters” with their other sister, Jessica Lovell. The Lovell Sisters released 2 independent albums and toured for numerous years before disbanding. In 2010, Rebecca and Megan decided to have a fresh start and create Larkin Poe and, well, the rest is history for the girls. Rebecca sings and plays electric guitar and Megan sings backing and plays electric guitar too, but mainly (through what I can see) plays a lap steel guitar. The sisters play a wide range of other instruments too at great talents. The girls frequently release music and “Peach” is their latest release. Released on the 29th of September through Tricki-Woo Records, this album is raw and exciting. To me, these girls have started getting their name here there and everywhere this year and every time I go on Facebook, someone is sharing a video of their’s. The power of social media is incredible, and it’s obviously helping the girls of Larkin Poe get viral, and so they should, they’re talented, sassy and they R O C K.
Originally done by Robert Johnson, the Larkin Poe sisters remake the classic “Come On In My Kitchen” to give you all a taste of what the girls are about. Simplicity. Blues is a very simple genre, if you over exaggerate the blues, it can be messy, but this adaptation of the great Robert Johnson tune is elegant and sexy. The song is simply about Robert Johnson sitting alone in his kitchen and he tries to get his lover to come join him before the rain start outside. Even the meaning of the song is simple. The sleazy guitar work in this song is probably my favourite sounding guitar part on the album. The notes scream, but only when needed.
“Freedom” is an original from the girls and it’s pretty strong. The song is indie blues but definitely not roots blues, it’s modernised and fresh. The vocal melodies are quirky and roll of the tongue especially “…feels like he’ll never be.” The backing vocals are tight and suit the song to kind of give it a “pop” sound too which is interesting. Best thing about the blues is the catchiness behind it. If a song is catchy, you’re obviously going to be singing it for a good couple of weeks. I guess the BAD thing about blues is that it’s pretty much all been done before or it sounds similar to other songs, but it’s really nice to see the girls of Larkin Poe given it a fresh new face.
We all know the next song but the girls have really made it their own, which is great. “Black Betty” is an African-American work song from the 20th century but most people know it as the Lead Belly song. This version of the song feels like it doesn’t really go anywhere, it’s a bit boring. The vocals are strong, Rebecca has so much attitude which is definitely what you need with blues, but this version doesn’t stand out to me at all.
“Look Away” is another original from the sisters. It’s definitely the most pop/electronic sounding song on the album so far, which is cool because the girls have their own influences and always make sure to put a little bit of a twist into their music. The song itself isn’t very complex but it definitely works.
A cover of classic Son House song, Larkin Poe’s version of “Preachin Blues” is amazing. It’s one of the strongest songs on the album and really does make you tap your feet to the foot thumping rhythm. It’s powerful and very “low-end” which I love because having a low-frequency really can capture anyone’s ear. The guitar’s in this song (and throughout the album) especially are tight and the guitar solo in Look Away is melodically crafty. It’s not too complex, but it’s not too simple, really nice work. This song is old and it’s great to see how the blues has evolved and reached these two girls. They understand the roots and the emotions behind the music that you need for the blues and my goodness, they’ve got the perfect attitude for this song.
“Cast ‘Em Out” is a soft blues song with lovely lyrics that Rebecca delicately sings rhythmically. The song feels like it has a lot of influence through work songs, maybe someone’s working on the train tracks and singing this song to make time go a bit quicker, who knows and I love that about music, because there’s no right or wrong answer with questions like that. The girls are definitely going back to southern roots of blues for this song but it still sounds so new. Love it.
The next song is dark and instrumentally, it sounds like it could be a Queens of the Stone Age song, but with the soft lyrics in the verses that Rebecca sings, it gives the Larkin Poe sound for “Pink & Red” ; sassy and fierce. When Rebecca is talking for the main chorus hook, it gives the song a bit more attitude and even gives it a sense of rap music… I’m definitely getting some sort of Linkin Park vibes from that part… strange.
“John the Revelator” is a traditional gospel blues call and response song and the Larkin Poe’s version of it is pretty moody. It’s repetitive and feels like it could have built up to something really impressive, but it just stays the same all the way through. I’m personally not liking this version, but if you like moody dark blues, I’m sure you will.
The guitar fuzz of “Wanted Woman / AC/DC” creates this electronic kind of sound for the simple blues. The beginning is very Black Keys/White Stripes sounding which probably makes me personally like it even more, but at the same time, this song is very generic for the girls and not their strongest. The octave guitar tones at 2.42 are stunning and capture the second part of the song “AC/DC” which is definitely the higher energy part of the song. I’ve watched some live videos of Larkin Poe playing this song and it has so much more energy than the studio version. Don’t get me wrong the studio version has energy, but I guess there’s nothing more than live music. I really like how the song has two parts, it definitely makes it more interesting.
“Tom Devil” is the last song on the album and honestly, it doesn’t really give it the best sending off as a last song should do on an album. The harmonies are sweet and the chant like vocals are always a crowd pleaser live because everyone can sing along. Once again though, the song feels like it could have been bigger then it is. The eerie sounds from the backing instruments (organ/percussion) are great as a build up, but I was just waiting for the guitar parts to come screaming in to make a big finish for the album. But there’s nothing. Is that a good or bad thing? I guess if there were guitars in this song it would make it predictable, so I’ll give it to the Larkin Poe girls because they must have been like “actually… let’s surprise them.”
Overall, rhythmically and melodically a simple album and catchy. Definitely going to be keeping my eyes and ears on Larkin Poe and seeing where the sisters may take us with their music. Very talented girls vocally and musically.
Score – 7/10
Favourite Tracks: Come On In My Kitchen, Freedom, Preachin’ Blues, Cast ‘Em Out, Pink & Red.