Georgia peach sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell form Larkin Poe, a band whose old-school southern rock ’n roll sound is anything but sweet. The girls took the band’s name from their great-great-great-grandfather, Larkin Husky Poe, a cousin of none other than America’s favorite creep, Edgar Allan Poe. Rather than hiding from this fact, they fully embrace their ancestral darkness, describing themselves as “descendants of [the] tortured artist and creative genius.” As band whose sound begs to be experienced live and very loudly, they’ve played everywhere from Nashville’s Grand Ole Oprey to a headlining show at a festival in Mumbai, India. During the pandemic, the girls kept their fans happy and their music muscles strong with regular live-streamed performances (many of which are available to watch online!). However, when it comes to rock n’ roll, nothing is better than the real thing. With two new albums under their belt (2020’s She’s a Self-Made Man and this year’s collection of covers, Kindred Spirits), the girls are heading back out on the road.
In the first few years after forming, the girls put out a handful of EPs and collaborative albums before signing with RH Music, under whom they put out their debut full-length album, Kin, in 2014. Ever since, they have steadily been releasing music. Their third studio album, Venom & Faith, earned them a nomination at the 2020 Grammys for Best Contemporary Blues Album and spent a week in the #1 spot on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums Chart.
Their latest full-length release of original work is She’s a Self-Made Man, a fusion between hard rock and blues tied together with vivd imagery that paints a gritty, frank, yet celebratory image of the American South. With stories of convicts, nefarious angels, and natural disasters enacted by God, the girls choose to focus on the dark underbelly of the region known for its sweetness.
The cheeky title track opens the album and carries all the bravado and hubris of the high-rolling hotshot it depicts, simultaneously poking fun at those types of men (we all know one) and turning this archetype on its head with the word “she” tacked onto the front of the song’s title. “Holy Ghost Fire,” the album’s standout track, follows the opener and dials up the punchy sounds we are introduced to in the previous song. With neither judgment nor praise, the track alludes to the over-zealous preachers commonly associated with churches in the South and culminates with a scream-worthy chorus: “Burn! / Burn, baby, burn with that holy ghost fire / From your fingers to the frets, gonna testify / Sing! / Sing, baby, sing, let your sorrow pass by / Lift our voices with the smoke, rising higher / Burn with that holy ghost fire!”
One of the most compelling elements of the album is its storytelling. While this is generally a feature of any singer-songwriter worth their salt, the girls borrow from the country and blues hallmark of putting oneself in an entirely different—and often fictional—pair of shoes in order to better illustrate their message. “Tears of Blue to Gold” is a nostalgic song that conjures the bittersweet feeling of reminiscing childhood memories and knowing you can never return to that time. But this is all told from the perspective of a young Elvis Presley’s imagined boyhood friend, a Pepsi-Cola factory worker who still remembers hunting honeybees and driving cars in Tupelo, Presley’s birthplace, before he went off to become the biggest musician in the history of the world.
The album rounds out with “Easy Street,” a bluesy track steeped in optimism. “I been high, I been low,” Rebecca sings, “There’s so much I don’t know / Workin’ hard, putting miles on my own two feet / Time’s are hard but they’re real / Keep my shoulder to the wheel / ’Til I walk on that easy street.”
Altogether, the girls have created a sharp sound that perfectly captures the edge of old rock and blues while managing to sound incredibly fresh. With smart lyrics and soulful singing, they aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. Each album is as good – if not better – than the last, which means you have a lot of happy listening ahead of you. You don’t want to miss Larkin Poe live in concert at Roots N Blues Festival 2021. Hear them play on Friday night, September 24 in Stephens Lake Park, Columbia, MO. Get your passes here: https://rootsnbluesfestival.com/tickets/.