Larkin Poe and Thom Hell – The Sound of the Ocean Sound

Album Review | Elvins | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Since the disbandment of the Calhoun, Georgia-based ‘progressive acoustic trio’ The Lovell Sisters, who between them made a couple of fine Bluegrass/Country-styled albums a few years ago, the offshoot outfit Larkin Poe, headed by the younger siblings Rebecca and Megan Lovell has risen in popularity on the acoustic music scene over the last three years with an increasingly rockier element, which has provided the band with their highly distinctive sound. During this time the band have used the EP format to monitor their progress, releasing no less than five superb discs since the Spring of 2010 (all reviewed by Northern Sky). During this time the band has also been engaged in one or two collaborative efforts, contributing their distinctive vocals and instrumental chops to recordings by such notable acts as Blair Dunlop and Gilmore and Roberts. Larkin Poe’s eagerly awaited full-length album is still very much on everyone’s wish list for 2013. Although The Sound of the Ocean Sound is indeed a full-length album with the band’s name on the cover and with no less than seven Lovell originals included (either written or co-written), it is for all intents and purposes another collaborative project, this time seeing the band team up with Norwegian singer/songwriter Thom Hell. Opening with a Rebecca Lovell original, which dates back to the Lovell Sisters days, “I Belong To Love” is a good song choice to get this thing started, familiar to anyone who has caught the band live over the last three years but in this case performed with an additional male voice. Although these songs are perfectly well written and performed, there’s a slight problem for this dyed-in-the-wool Larkin Poe fan that can’t be avoided. The fact of the matter is simple; Larkin Poe just happens to be an already perfectly formed unit, with two inimitable and instantly recognisable voices, which ultimately means that a third voice, however well intentioned, just seems to get in the way. Having said that, Thom’s own songs “Leave”, “Tired” and “Missing Home” are fine discoveries to my ears; songs that may otherwise have been left unheard had it not been for this project. Anyone familiar with the Larkin Poe canon will be aware that Megan Lovell (the quiet, studious one), is an astonishingly good songwriter, just listen to “We Intertwine” from the Spring EP for proof of that. On this album Megan writes with the same tenderness with songs like “I Can Almost”, which Megan is more than willing to stand aside for her younger sister to duet on with Thom Hell. “Wait For Me” also reveals an insight into a mother’s grief and loss of a serving son, once again revealing Megan’s penchant for pulling at the heartstrings. The overall sound on this album is much lighter than the current Larkin Poe sound as witnessed at various 2012 gigs and at a handful of high profile summer festivals such as Cropredy. Although this album is a must-have addition to every self-respecting Larkin Poe aficionado, the debut full-length Larkin Poe album is still to come.