Larkin Poe – Venom and Faith

Album Review | Tricki-Woo Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Those who were lucky enough to be around at the beginning of Larkin Poe’s exciting ‘journey’, a journey that has been on an upwardly mobile trajectory since Rebecca and Megan Lovell first branched off from their elder sibling whilst adopting a name borrowed from one of their ancestors, will have noticed a much harder approach to their own idiosyncratic southern roots sound. Though the hollow acoustic guitar and trusty Dobro have been pretty much replaced now by solid bodied instruments, Rebecca Lovell’s highly distinctive voice is still at the forefront of the duo’s immediately recognisable blues-based sound. From day one the duo’s desire to create their own brand of bluesy grooves was very much evident, even at the time of their earliest ‘seasonal’ EP with the blistering “Principle of Silver Lining”. Venom and Faith, the title taken from the sultry “Honey Honey”, is the third album by the Nashville-based, Georgia-born siblings, which sees the duo continue their search for their own infectious ‘Southern Gothic’ sound with eight new originals and a couple of covers, Bessie Jones’ soulful “Sometimes”, incorporating a sound previously explored by the duo on their live favourite “Black Betty”, here treated to a bold and brassy accompaniment, together with the old Skip James blues “Hard Time Killing Floor”, with some searing vocal/slide sparring. No strangers to collaboration, having previously worked with the likes of Elvis Costello, Steven Tyler, Thom Hell and Blair Dunlop, the duo are joined by guitarist Tyler Bryant on the blues-drenched Mississippi. Despite the duo’s endeavours to create a compelling contemporary blues sound, most notably on “Ain’t Gonna Cry” and consistently through the conduit of Megan’s brilliant slide work, the old instruments do occasionally come out and play, the banjo evident on the sizzling “California King”, keeping to the rootsy tenets the duo are known for.