Album review: LARKIN POE – Self Made Man

LARKIN POE - Self Made Man

Tricki-Woo Records [Release date 12.06.20]

Atlanta-bred, Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist Lovell sisters Rebecca and Megan have never been less than prolific, passing through folk, and then pop before alighting on the pop meets American South roots based format they debuted on Peach (2017).

It instantly found them wider a wider appeal, and the follow up, Venom & Faith (2018), written and delivered to the same template, saw them nominated, but narrowly miss out on, a Grammy for best contemporary blues album.

While it’s claimed that Self Made Man – like its predecessor, self-produced with “our good buddy and engineer” Roger Alan Nichols at his Nashville studio, Bell Tone Recording – sees the pair ‘pushing their music and message towards hitherto unexplored terrain’, to my ears it’s very much Venon & Faith, Part II.

Which is a bit of a disappointment.  Yes, there’s an argument for ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but while Venom & Faith took the blueprint of Peach to the next level, Self Made Man doesn’t bring anything new the party, other than an overburdening  White Stripes overbearing  effects density to the vocals and guitar work that permeates the record like an unwelcome shroud of smog.

And while all the underlying hallmarks that made Venom & Faith’s radio friendly heritage rooted pop so fresh are still there, the song writing – which this time around includes just the one cover – Blind Willie Johnson’s haunting ‘God Moves On The Water’ – just isn’t is as strong, sounding arguably like an album of Venon & Faith ‘outtakes’.

It all adds up to Self Made Man sounding frustratingly one dimensional.  I likened Venom & Faith to a freight train comin’ down the line.  With Self Made Man, Larkin Poe seem to have engaged reverse gear.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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