Larkin Poe (from the album Kindred Spirits available on Tricki-Woo Records) (by Chris Wheatley)
How quickly time passes. Half a year has flown by since I had the pleasure of reviewing Grammy-nominated sister-act Rebecca and Megan Lovell's (recording as Larkin Poe) fifth album, Self Made Man. Back then, to quote myself, I stated: ‘Rebecca and Megan share a singular vision and utilize every talent which they possess in bringing that vision to life’. Born in Atlanta and raised in Nashville, Rebecca and Megan's early musical grounding lay in the classical arena before, in their late teens, they turned to Bluegrass. Further re-inventions occurred and they settled on their now-signature sound of visceral, Roots Rock. Kindred Spirits, out on the sisters' own Tricki-Wood records, is their sixth album to date. Intriguingly, this is a collection of eleven covers which celebrate their loves and influences.
Cover versions are a tricky thing to get right. Personally, I love hearing new interpretations of classic songs, however the emphasis, to my mind, should always lie with the phrase new interpretations, at least on recordings by artists of this standard. Here, Larkin Poe (the name is an amalgam of the monikers of the sisters' ancestors, including one Edgar Allen) have selected an eclectic mix with more than a few surprises. The set begins with high ambition; a take on Robert Johnson's immortal “Hellhound on My Trail”. A few seconds' listen is enough to dispel any concerns; Larkin Poe are indeed too good simply to rehash a song. Surprisingly, a few seconds are all we get, before launching into Lenny Kravitz's “Fly Away”, here transformed into a slower-tempo, slide-guitar driven acoustic number. To my ears, this dusty, dirty rendition improves upon the original.
The sisters' take on Neil Young's “Rockin' In The Free World” feels fresh and authentic, as full of pathos as Young's version, but stamped with Larkin Poe's affecting vocals, lilting compositions, and a musical spirit which seems anchored way up high in the misty, new-ancient mountains of America, in a place which perhaps never truly existed, but lingers in the soul and the heart. Giant/Baum/Kaye composition, made famous by Elvis Presley, “You're the Devil in Disguise”, is revelatory, a slow-burning, eerie meditation which veers from stomping menace to sweetly soaring, all under a mysterious, blue-red broiling sky. Perhaps the most unexpected track, Phil Collin's “In the Air Tonight”, is presented as a razor-sharp spiritual Blues. It works incredibly well.
The Moody Blues' “Nights in White Satin” simmers nicely, striking deep into one's chest, full of longing, somehow both softer and harder than the original. Even for a Moody's fan such as I, this is superlative. Bo Diddley's “Who Do You Love” rattles with that famous rhythm/riff, skeletal and celebratory. Diddley would have been proud. Post Malone's “Take What You Want” is the most contemporary track, and the sisters' handle it with aplomb, twisting the original into a hard-bitten, road-bustin' journey.
“Ramblin' Man” by the Allman Brothers sparkles and bounces along the bayou, marrying the more stripped-back efforts of Led Zeppelin to ringing, joyous Country-inflected vibes. Derek & The Domino's “Bell Bottom Blues” is sweet and simple, showcasing the sisters' praise-worthy guitar skills, with highly effective, sweeping vocals. Elton John's “Crocodile Rock” closes the set with a mid-tempo, laid-back feel. It is a measure of Larkin Poe's skill that they manage to paint an entirely new canvas from the originals' colours. Replete with slide-guitar and guileless sing-a-long chorus, Larkin Poe effortlessly side-step the twee or the naïve. (by Chris Wheatley)
Listen and buy the music of Larkin Poe on AMAZON
For more information head on over to the Larkin Poe website