Sister duo Larkin Poe, Rebecca, and Megan Lovell, were born in the distinctly Southern landscape of Georgia—something that becomes quite evident when you listen to their music.
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From the first record they put out nearly a decade ago, the sisters invited their listeners in with a proverbial sweet tea and an open screen door. Woven in their swampy guitar riffs and sultry harmonies are visuals of sticky, humid summer nights in north Georgia where the two sisters first conjured up the idea for Larkin Poe.
[RELATED: Review: Larkin Poe Deliver Roaring, Impassioned Set on ‘Blood Harmony’]
Since then, they have moved to Nashville, adding yet another tasting of Southern flavors for their audience to savor.
The sentiment of Southern hospitality as both Georgians and Tennesseans is imbued deep within their latest record, Blood Harmony. Running 11 tracks deep, they lay the down-home vibe on thick, but it comes from the heart, making it feel lighter than air.
“I feel like the strongest lyrical thread that runs through the album is our family connection and the bond that we share as sisters,” Rebecca says of Blood Harmony. “Additionally there’s a healthy dose of optimism in there. I think optimism and joy is a unifying theme as well.”
“This album is much more like our live shows than previous records,” Megan adds. “I think each record has been getting closer and closer to that energy. This record especially has a very raw, live feeling.”
The sisters bounce off one another like you’d imagine they would, having not only grown up together but spent the better part of their adult lives working and creating alongside each other. Given that both Rebecca and Megan have made it a point to work solely as a duo for the past decade, it seems they’ve found the X factor to making it last.
With their latest record, they did open the door for more collaborations, a decision they think only strengthens the final product.
“Self-reliance is really the backbone of what we’ve built as Larkin Poe for the last 10 years,” Rebecca says. “That will inevitably always be a huge part of how we engage with our music, our band, and our business. But being able to open up the gates a little bit and invite our touring band into the studio, to invite friends that we respect musically, to have our husbands be involved, I think it felt a lot more celebratory and inspiring in that way.”
Though the studio sessions saw a lot more cooks in the kitchen than in previous Larkin Poe projects, the writing process began amid the pandemic, which forced Rebecca and Megan to be as self-reliant as they ever had been.
“It was different this time around,” Megan says. “We really put a focus on pre-production. Being able to sit in a room, just the two of us, and really hash through the details of each song was really important to us. During the pandemic, we did a lot of live streaming, we did a lot of videos just the two of us, and you can really tell the grip of a song by stripping it down and playing it with just the basic components.”
Ahead of the album’s release, the duo put out three singles from the record, two of which were clever plays on classic tracks.
“Bad Spell” was born out of Rebecca’s fascination with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ haunting “I Put A Spell On You.” Larkin Poe picks up the conversation where he left off, albeit with a more hard-edged demeanor.
“Sometimes you have an idea for a song and you just have to let it ferment until you feel inspired enough to revisit and flesh out the idea,” Rebecca says. “I fell in love with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’ the first time I heard it like everybody else. It’s mesmerizing. I wanted to write a rock ’n’ roll response to that record.
In the same vein, “Georgia Off My Mind,” is, of course, a play on Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind.” The chorus rings out with the lyrics Tennessee, keep Georgia off of my mind. The song is an ode to both of the landscapes that made Larkin Poe.
“There’s an interesting interplay for my sister and me about relating as ‘Georgia peaches’ and having been born in Tennessee,” Rebecca says. “When we moved back to Tennessee five or six years ago, it felt like a big transition while simultaneously it felt like coming home.”
Rebecca did concede that Blood Harmony started with the sisters being more at odds than ever.
“We’re now in our early 30s,” Rebecca says. “I think one of the biggest things that we’ve learned about being sisters in a band together is being able to challenge each other in a healthy way. I think it’s fair to say that with this album we had the most tension about material from the outset. I think that was really useful because it required us to have some tough conversations. I think it made the album stronger.”
Main photo by Jason Stoltzfus