They were once a family trio called The Lovell Sisters. Disbanding in 2009 and rising from the ashes shortly after as duo Larkin Poe, Rebecca and Megan are about to release their sixth studio album, Blood Harmony. The band's name was inspired by the name of their great-grandfather from five generations ago.
Their music is grounded in American rock and blues of the southern variety. Rebecca has adopted the main songwriting role and Megan - known as “the slide queen” by her sister, plays a mean lap-steel and resonator guitar, as well as creating the vocal harmonies. Larkin Poe co-produced the record alongside Texan musician and Rebecca’s husband, Tyler Bryant.
First track ‘Deep Stays Down’ bleeds in softly with a sweet, southern blues guitar riff, before powerfully letting loose, assisted by touring rhythm section, drummer Kevin McGowan and bassist Tarka Layman to help raise the decibels across the LP. ‘Bad Spell’ is fuzzy and explosive with the Royal Blood treatment. This is Larkin Poe’s homage to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins's 1956 blues-rock classic ‘I Put a Spell on You’.
Throughout ‘Blood Harmony’, the sisters scream of their pride in being American southerners on the likes of ‘Georgia Off My Mind’ and ‘Southern Comfort’. Both songs are well constructed but are hindered by being too contrived in southern stereotypes such as “blue jeans”, “Coca-Cola”, and “state lines”.
Slide Queen Megan Lovell is in full force on the rebellious and bombastic ‘Bolt Cutters & The Family Name’, as Rebecca sings - “You can take me outta the fire, but you can’t take the fire outta me”.
The title track is dedicated to their musically rich family influences. The sisters were trained classically but were also exposed to hard ‘70s rock, blues and an array of guitar-based artists growing up. Case in point, on the upbeat ‘Kick the Blues’, there is a flavour of Joan Jett.
It’s only really on the ninth track of the album - the heartfelt ‘It Might As Well Be Me’ that we hear the Lovell sisters taking their foot off the gas a little from their loved-up southern excursion. It contains a majestic blues guitar solo as its centrepiece.
‘Summerset Sunset’ is a juggernaut of a song and is crafted for large, global arenas & concert halls. Despite one of their song titles being titled ‘Strike Gold’ the record doesn’t reach those heights. This album is built for their dynamic and incendiary live performances. However, it feels mildly impersonal.
In a 2021 XS Noize interview, Rebecca Lovell said that she yearned to write a “dyed in the wool” love song. You can’t help feeling more songs that sing about the matters of the heart are what is needed to give the album that depth and contrast between light & shade. The best track on the album is the more melancholy and soulful, ‘Lips As Cold As Diamond’, which has tones of the great Allison Moorer. If only there had been more songs of this calibre and substance.