The Girls Are Back in Town!
The Lovell girls, Rebecca and Megan, are back in town with Blood Harmony (November 11, 2022; Tricki-Woo Records) and, as the song goes, if they want to fight you’d better let ‘em!
As always, the Nashville-based duo have strapped on their Dr Marten boots before summoning up a storm of songs. Many years have now passed since they unexpectedly first raised Elvis Costello’s eyebrows with their voices while accompanying him live on stage, but they continue to show the depth and all-round talent that got them there.
This time the Lovell sisters, better known as Larkin Poe, have teamed up with Tyler Bryant (Rebecca’s husband) of Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown to produce Blood Harmony, enlisting on the way drummer Kevin McGowan and bassist Tarka Layman.
One aspect of the feel they have been looking for in their latest offering is highlighted by the cover art, which features a classic seventies-style vinyl album cover that looks like it could tell a hundred stories on its own. This is reinforced by their video for Strike Gold, which is all glitter balls, orange tones and tassel jackets that evoke Hendrix, Daltrey - and an entire lifestyle. Other musical threads that are deeply interwoven on this album are heavy rock, country, pop, and swampy southern blues.
This is the eclectic vibe that gives the music its flavour on songs like the opener Deep Stays Down, where we immediately find “a bullet in the gun” and a river that runs deep “and the deep stays down”. Bad Spell continuous the ominous start by evoking rattling window panes, a black cat creeping on the front porch and ‘the line going click’, as Rebecca spits “you cast a bad spell over me”. On the video to promote the song the lead guitarist can be seen playing a Fender American Elite Stratocaster HSS Shawbucker.
Georgia Off My Mind is too sentimental and commercial sounding for my taste, but Larkin Poe return to their roots once more on the following Strike Gold and Southern Comfort.
The album’s title track Blood Harmony soon follows with Rebecca evoking her family heritage and particularly her mother as the source of her soulful vocals. “More than flesh, more than bone, when you sing I don’t sing alone,” she chants. Summertime Sunset also showcases the sound that make Larkin Poe such a great live act, but sandwiched between these two is the unmissable and heartwrenching gem Might As Well Be Me. Rebecca has said she composes a lot of her songs “late night, over the kitchen table”; if so, one can imagine a couple of empty bottles of Southern Comfort at her side when she penned this one. Megan shines once more on this cut with a pedal steel solo that adds pathos to a song that will likely leave you with your head in your hands.
Album closer Lips As Cold As Diamond provides a reflective take on death with Rebecca singing about meeting her maker and the need to “dig a hole, dig a hole.” Like Mad as a Hatter it is something of an outlier in Larkin Poe’s catalogue, but again serves to highlight their depth as a band. A depth that, at the moment, seems without limits.