Larkin Poe – Self Made Man: Album Review

Self Made Man is the fifth album from Larkin Poe and it’s a stonker.

Release Date: 12th June 2020

Label: Tricki-Woo

Formats: CD / DL / vinyl

Larkin Poe are a genuine phenomenon.  Essentially a vehicle for the tunes and life philosophies of the Lovell sisters, Rebecca and Megan, they make a unique sound, firmly rooted in the gospel, blues and country influences of the American south.  I first became aware of Larkin Poe when they performed at the 2012 Cropredy Festival. 

Larkin Poe at Cropredy 2012 by John Barlass

They’d arrived there bearing a recommendation from Elvis Costello, with whom they’d just completed a European tour and they proceeded to knock us dead and to steal the plaudits for the whole weekend.  Since then, of course, they’ve gone on to greater and greater things, including receiving a Grammy nomination for their 2018 album, Venom and Faith and being voted Best Discovery of Glastonbury 2014 by The Observer. 

Self Made Man is a very lyrical album of wonderful songs built upon the sisters’ counter-riffing guitars and genuinely spine-tingling vocals.  As we’ve come to expect, the musical styles veer between down-home Southern rock, gospel and sweet Americana.  Every track is a classic.

From the outset, we’re left in no doubt of what we are about to receive.  Opening track (and the album’s first single) She’s A Self Made Man serves notice of the heavy riffage and plaintive vocals that really mark this album as something very special.  The anthemic Holy Ghost Fire continues in the same vein and the girls’ tremendous video of this track is a real taster for what this album is all about. 

Keep Diggin’ is a wordy number backed with a nice guitar riff and some stomping, heavy percussion and Back Down South, with it’s excellent, urgent, vocal from Rebecca and a stunning guitar cameo from guest Tyler Bryant, is a standout track amongst an album of standouts.

Tears Of Blue To Gold and Every Bird That Flies are both great songs that allow the sisters to show off their southern chops to best effect. God Moves Through The Water is bluesy gospel that recalls tragedies including the sinking of the Titanic and the San Francisco earthquake and warns us to start praying again. Scorpion is a swampy rocker with a haunting, ghostly vocal refrain and Danger Angel, another portion of hot southern rock on which resonator and electric guitars combine to chilling effect.

Penultimate track, Ex-Con, is perhaps, my favourite of all.  It’s a strutting rocker, dripping with slide guitar and driven by thumping percussion, all topped by a vocal delivery to die for.  Great stuff!  After that, there’s just room for the breezy, gospel-ish closing track, Easy Street; a fine ending to a fine album.

Larkin Poe are due to tour the UK in early 2021, with dates scheduled in Glasgow, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Oxford, London and Manchester.  Check out the band’s website for details of ticket availability. On the evidence of Self Made Man, these shows should be tremendous. 

This album is a must-have.  Thank you, Larkin Poe.

Listen to Holy Ghost Fire here:

Larkin Poe online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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