We hereby direct your attention to Larkin Poe, a pair of badass Georgia-bred sisters who—we kid you not—are distantly related to 19th-century American writer, poet and critic Edgar Allen Poe, the tortured artist behind The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death and "The Raven."
OK, I majored in English (writing and literature), so, yeah, I think that's cool.
However, the fact that they're 20-something-year-old Southern sisters playing gritty, modern roots rock and blues on a Fender Jazzmaster and an ancient Rickenbacker lap steel makes them a hell of a lot cooler.
That's Rebecca Lovell on guitar, mandolin and vocals and Megan Lovell on lap steel and vocals. Rebecca and Megan (along with their older sister, Jessica) started performing together in 2005 as the Lovell Sisters. After a level of success that's definitely nothing to sneeze at (unless you happen to be coming down with something), they split up, eventually reforming—just Rebecca and Megan this time—in 2010 as Larkin Poe, the name of their great-great-great grandfather, a Civil War wagon driver (and good ol' Edgar Allen Poe's cousin).
Their 2017 album, Peach, is overflowing with hints of their Southern upbringing, not to mention lots of wiry guitar, strong songwriting, magnetic melodies, sweet harmonies and a comforting level of authenticity. They also bring an updated sense of pathos and grit to some incredibly ancient tunes, including Robert Johnson's "Come on in My Kitchen," Son House's "Preachin' Blues" and Blind Willie Johnson's "John the Revelator."
Mind you, this is not a "throwback" band (or album); some of the tracks from Peach would sound natural following an Ed Sheeran tune on the tinny speakers at the Veggie Grill in Pasadena. It is, however, commendable that they're blending vintage blues motifs with a modern sound.
Sometimes Megan's playing sounds like Derek Trucks, Hop Wilson, Jimmy Page or George Harrison—maybe even George's buddy, Eric Clapton. Most often, however, she sounds like herself, a new "voice" in blues-guitar land, which is refreshing.
"The first slide instrument I was introduced to was the dobro," Megan told us in 2014. "At that time, I was taking lessons in guitar and mandolin and I couldn't seem to make headway with either of them. As soon as I saw, heard and appreciated slide guitar, I knew I had found my calling. I was immediately taken with the sound, versatility and almost vocal quality of the instrument.
"Later on, with...Larkin Poe, I found the need for a grittier, electrified sound and picked up the lap steel. I'll always love the dobro, but my true passion lies in the lap steel. I love how multifaceted the lap steel can be; the sound can mimic anything from a roaring electric guitar to a whiny pedal steel. I play a 1940s bakelite Rickenbacker lap steel—and I couldn't be happier."
"My standby guitar is a Fender Jazzmaster," Rebecca told us in September. "Ever since I saw Elvis Costello pick one up when we were out on tour with him a few years ago it’s stolen my heart. I also have a Sixties Princeton Blackface that I love. I don’t take it out on the road much because it’s so fragile, but it’s my ideal combination."
You can check out a few of Larkin Poe's 2017 videos above, plus a lap-steel demo clip Megan shot for Guitar World's Acoustic Nation. Below, behold their cover of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs."
Peach is featured as an honorable mention in Guitar World's guide to the 10 essential rootsy releases of 2017. For more information (plus tour dates), check out our 2017 interview with Rebecca and Megan and visit larkinpoe.com.