A couple of weeks ago Larkin Poe released their fifth studio album Self Made Man. The Atlanta-born Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist sister duo Rebecca and Megan Lovell have spent the last ten years on a journey from folky acoustic roots to their current mix of barnstorming blues and classic rock. We think Self Made Man is Larkin Poe at their best – full-throttle roots-rock. It’s also an uplifting reflection on their road to personal empowerment and the infectious positivity they carry with them.
We wanted to find out more, so we spoke to Rebecca and Megan about the making of the album and how they have been coping during lockdown.
Thanks for talking with us. Your new album sounds like your most eclectic and confident release to date. How would you describe it?
Megan: “Thanks! We feel that we’ve stepped more into our own with this album. Though we tend to move between and blend a few genres, we always want to stay true to our background and love of roots music. There’s a hefty dose of blues, old-style country, and bluegrass mixed up in a modern rock and roll sound palette and cut with a pop song structure.”
What was the writing and recording process like? Did you approach it differently to your previous albums?
Rebecca: “Our last three albums have been self-produced and we have found the experience so gratifying and freeing. Since we are sisters, we can move together very quickly in the studio – there’s so much of our communication that’s nonverbal. We are true collaborators; we have to agree on the song choices and vibe of the production. Luckily, we’re very much on the same page! A good bit of the production is done by the time we get into the studio – I create the drum, bass, and synth tracks, and song arrangements on my laptop at home – so we can focus on keeping our recording raw and human in the studio. We’re not doing a lot of takes. We’ve also made a firm commitment to not overly-process the vocals. We’re very reductionistic in our production style. Being in the studio is like solving a musical puzzle and there’s a lot of joy and satisfaction when you step back after months of work to see the whole picture.”
We love how you blend traditional blues, folk and bluegrass with classic rock and pop. How important is it for you to acknowledge your musical roots on your records?
Rebecca: “Roots American music means everything to us, and that love is really deeply seated. It feels good to be making records that show our passion for roots music and celebrate the connections between the source music of the South that has served as the impetus for modern rock and roll. It’s so powerful and so understated. It’s been a huge part of our mission to make music that pays tribute to the artists who are severely underrated. To jump from the foundation built by monumental artists is really special. It means a lot to us, as people, and informs the way we approach our lives. ”
You’ve covered ‘God Moves On The Water’ on this record and you covered ‘Sometimes’ on Venom & Faith, putting your own twist on both. How do these cover versions come about and how do you decide what changes to make to the original versions?
Megan: “It’s a gut feeling. Mostly we choose songs from artists we deeply admire and who wrote music that we wish we had written! We approach adding to and changing songs with a huge amount of respect – blues music is not intended to be a time capsule. We want to continue the story with our own point of view and breathe new life into the songs that have so shaped our lives.”
Is there any track that you are particularly looking forward to playing live when you can get back to touring?
Megan: “So many of these songs were written to live on the stage, so I’m looking forward to playing all of them! But, I have to say I’m specifically looking forward to singing ‘Holy Ghost Fire’ with a live audience.”
You’ve had to postpone touring for now. How else has lockdown impacted on your plans as a band and how have you been coping? What have you been doing to stay sane?
Rebecca: “Even though we can’t go out and see each other face-to-face, connecting with people is still super important to us, so we’ve been staying really active online: live streaming the new album, chatting with fans, and continuing to create content for our ‘Tip O’ The Hat’ video series. Staying creatively engaged is a major goal. We’ve also been gardening, which is definitely a welcome change since we normally kill plants from abandoning them while we’re on the road. We’re also avid readers and have been enjoying time with our husbands at home – that’s been another welcome change.”
What’s been your soundtrack to lockdown – any music recommendations for our readers?
Rebecca: “We’ve been sharing our favourite new jams and old favourites on our Spotify playlist ‘RATTLE & SHAKE’. Go check it out!”
Self Made Man is out now via Tricki-Woo Records.