By Martine Ehrenclou
Nashville-based Larkin Poe, the Grammy nominated roots rock sister duo, spring forth from their past two highly acclaimed albums, Venom & Faith and Self Made Man, with the new release Blood Harmony, a tribute to their Southern heritage, Southern rock and roll and spare blues.
Blood Harmony affirms Larkin Poe as a powerful force in contemporary roots rock. Their strength as independent women, highly talented vocalists, songwriters and musicians, fuel what is surely their best album to date. Blood Harmony is set to release November 11th on their own Tricki-Woo Records.
Both Rebecca and Megan Lovell are multi-instrumentalists with Megan on harmony vocals, lap steel and resonator guitar, and Rebecca on vocals, guitar and keys. A formidable band continuing to forge their way to the spotlight, Blood Harmony is about their reflections and stories of the South, kinship and family relationships. All with a deeply soulful, Southern rootsy sound that sometimes hints at something ominous.
Co-produced by Larkin Poe and Texas musician Tyler Bryant of Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown (also Rebecca’s husband,) they enlisted their live band for Blood Harmony, including drummer Kevin McGowan and bassist Tarka Layman.
Not content to simply be storytellers of the South, Larkin Poe digs deep, infusing metaphor and imagery in several of the songs. It’s clear they spent quite a bit of time deepening their songwriting for the album.
Case in point: album opener “Deep Stays Down,” a haunting blues stomp and masterclass in simplicity to create mood. The song takes a trip into swampy rhythms and roots of the South, where secrets are buried deep. Poetic lyrics conjure images of cicadas buzzing in the humid night where something is afoot beneath the glitter of the moonlit swamp.
A response to Screamin Jay Hawkins’ song “I Put A Spell On You,” Larkin Poe blasts off with “Bad Spell,” a fiery number firmly planted in blues-rock. Fuzzed up guitar skims this gritty rocker that is both ferocious and fabulous. Talk about snatching the darkness of Hawkins’ song, and responding with biting sneers and their badass selves. This track is dark, intense, rife with female power—a snap back at the early pioneer of shock rock.
Moving away from the gothic beginnings, the radio friendly “Georgia Off My Mind” rolls in with a southern rock lament about chasing one’s dreams and leaving behind what’s left in the rear view mirror. It’s a genuine love letter to Georgia while heading to Nashville, with slide guitar snaking through soaring vocals and harmonies.
Referring to the latter song, Rebecca says, “Like 99 percent of my songs, that song came into being at my kitchen table late in the evening.”
Stomping grooves await on “Strike Gold,” an ode to independence and carving one’s own path. A testament to female strength and trusting one’s instincts, it’s a killer track that reflects the originality of Larkin Poe—stinging lap steel, plenty of groove, vocal phrasing that harnesses the rhythm, and a tight rhythm section. It’s their songs though, combined with their vocals and musicianship, that take them to greatness.
The album’s title track “Blood Harmony” features Rebecca at her most soulful on vocals. A song about the powerful connection of family heritage, she sings “More than flesh, more than bone, when you sing I don’t sing alone.” The significance of the family tree is played out here in a roots rocking winner. Don’t miss “Summertime Sunset” a Southern rocker with searing vocals that reveal great vocal range, jangly guitars, and pedal steel.
Blood Harmony ends as it begins with a haunting, spare blues track, acoustic guitars, and a gothic theme. Pedal steel seeps into the richness, the haunting vibe, as melancholy vocals share the story. The emphasis is on the lyrics, with references to death and meeting one’s maker. Just try to shake this one off.
Pre-order link for Blood Harmony Here