Larkin Poe is back with their fifth release, just two years after their Grammy-nominated Venom & Faith. Self Made Man clocks in a mere half-hour like before and wastes not a single second, packed to the brim with refreshing exuberance.
You will be hard-pressed to find a more aptly named album. The sister-duo’s self-produced record comes alongside a series of homemade live streams and music videos, just months after a successful world tour. It is a stunning display of marked confidence too, flying the flag high for women in blues.
“Like a cannonball, moving down the track/Baby’s on her way, she ain’t coming back“. Right from the get-go, the title track resonates with full-on attitude. As much as the riffage is loud, it’s not just pure spunk. Megan and Rebecca Lovell know exactly how to complement each other with perfect harmonies of their vocals and multiple instruments.
There is no staying still from there on. The barrage of infectious hooks makes sure of it, be it with a catchy riff off Holy Ghost Fire or clap-along on Keep Diggin’. The guitar-driven record seems made for the live arena, inviting its audience to sing aloud and move to its every note.
Standout moments are aplenty, but perhaps the best comes in Back Down South. Guitarist Tyler Bryant – partner to one half of Larkin Poe – joins in on the brilliant track, tipping their hat to their musical roots, including Little Richard by name. The tribute goes on, bringing new life to Blind Willie Johnson’s God Moves on the Water at mid-mark.
It is evident that Larkin Poe draws deep on the golden era of blues despite their distinctive contemporary sound, especially on the broodier tracks. The raw spirit of the delta blues remains ever-present not just musically, but in their lyrical flair. Channelling their musical heroes, they have several compelling tales to tell through their music, including that of the hard-living Ex-con and the soul-swiping Danger Angel.
Undulating between past and present, the pair finds their own voice in thundering riffs and the lap steel twang. Self Made Man is perfect testament to the duo’s faithfulness to their influences, while never tethering themselves to expectations.