“Alternative?” More like “Awesome”
I came to learn of Larkin Poe because I love the blues, especially old blues in the way of Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Skip James, and the like. The music at the very roots of rock. Of course I love rock as well, but I crossed paths with Larkin Poe in the land of the southern blues. And I’m so glad I did. So I was surprised to see the genre label “Alternative” attached to this album, but I can understand why Larkin Poe’s genre might be hard to pinpoint today. They have their feet deeply embedded in roots music: Americana, bluegrass, and blues, with a healthy dose of classic rock. But it’s clear they are not just producing old-fashioned roots music...they are interpreting and reimagining it for today’s world. On this album, they cover Bessie Jones’ “Sometimes” (Bessie was first recorded by Alan Lomax...how’s that for roots music cred) and that most desolate of all old blues ever put on vinyl, Skip James’ “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues,” (which for me is the highlight of their performance on this album with Megan Lovell striking out with a searing solo on slide and Rebecca Lovell handling the guitar riffs and incredible vocals), and they are incredibly respectful to the source material, yet these songs sound utterly contemporary. Their original tunes are full of strong songwriting, powerful guitar riffs, even more powerful vocals from Rebecca, with perfectly placed harmonies from sister Megan, and amazingly tasty slide work also by Megan. And it should be said: these ladies know how to rock. Oh! Don’t listen to “Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues!” If you do, you will be singing that song in your head for days on end. You’ve been warned. Do listen to “Good and Gone” if you want to hear Rebecca Lovell’s vocal performance shift from the “amazing” level of the rest of the album to “utterly spellbinding” as she somehow catches another gear. So, do they belong in the record bin for “blues” albums? Or “rock?” Or “alternative?” I suggest filing them under “awesome.” I recommend you give them a listen and see for yourself!