Inventive covers by great Lovell sisters of Larkin Poe

Larkin Poe’s acoustic covers on “Kindred Spirits” doubtless will draw new fans.

Sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell kept their band Larkin Poe (named for their great, great, great grandfather, a cousin to Edgar Allan Poe) in the public eye during lockdown with a long series of intimate home videos. Just the two of them, radiating pure happiness through sparkling eyes and easy smiles. Singing like angels, and deftly whipping their guitars like the devil, they covered a disparate assortment of nostalgic songs that have inspired them from childhood on.

One day they played George Jones, the next Rod Stewart, then Son House, The Beatles, and so on. Nothing seemed out of their reach. So simple, yet so transfixing and impactful were their performances, ‘Kindred Spirits’ seemed a logical next step. Hailing from Georgia, Larkin Poe brands everything with a big, fancy “S” for Southern. Although rooted in the blues, their original music wanders wildly from that rich wellspring. The eleven songs they present here span a generation of time, style, and geographical origin, but flow into one another like the interconnecting branches of one rambling river.

Rebecca plays acoustic and resonator guitars, and Megan plays lap steel. Both add a variety of percussion, as does guest Caleb Crosby of Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, on two. Those flourishes, as well as the proper studio treatments, kick the proceedings up a notch, but the overall feel of a stripped-down session remains.

Forty-four eloquent seconds of Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail” warms things up, and also sets up their dramatically rearranged run through Lenny Karavitz’ “Fly Away.” Johnson’s ancient, urgent blues in that setting, connects ideally to their swampy, cut-to-the-heart rendering of Kravitz’s urban rock pandemonium.

“Rockin’ in the Free World” comes off mournful, Neil Young’s words hitting the bull’s-eye more now than when Crazy Horse raged on it over 30 years ago. Then it’s back to the blues with a stark, daring take on Elvis Presley’s “Devil in Disguise.” The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” retains its lustrous nature in their hands, but the sparse setting, their spiraling harmonies, and wicked gusts of lap steel offer the tale of unrequited love a ghostly quality.

The Lovell’s are ingenious in their adjustment of melody and perspective on several of these songs, exposing surprising elements buried within them. Their way with Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” offers one unique example. Although for the most part they stay true to its original form, letting their excitement fly free, they temper some of the unsavory lyrics and even insert an original verse with a feminine perspective. Gleefully riding across the country of the Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man,” and then melting like butter within the melancholy of Derek and the Dominos’ “Bell Bottom Blues,” the sisters tie together two particularly natural kindred spirits that began an ocean apart.

This album provokes memories, astonishment, and tons of fun. Young, highly driven, and extraordinarily talented as they are, Larkin Poe will likely become kindred spirits to a new generation of players.

-Tom Clarke

  • Larkin Poe
  • ‘Kindred Spirits’
  • Label: Tricki-Woo
  • Released: Nov. 20, 2020
  1. Hellhound On My Trail (Robert Johnson)
  2. Fly Away (Lenny Kravitz)
  3. Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young)
  4. (You’re The) Devil In Disguise (Elvis Presley)
  5. In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins)
  6. Nights In White Satin (The Moody Blues)
  7. Who Do You Love (Bo Diddley)
  8. Take What You Want (Post Malone)
  9. Ramblin’ Man (The Allman Brothers)
  10. Bell Bottom Blues (Derek & The Dominoes)
  11. Crocodile Rock (Elton John)

ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 23 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, and the 45-year timelines and ever-growing family trees of The Allman Brothers Band and Los Lobos. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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