These ladies are killers. They don’t skulk around dank castles flapping their capes or spouting off about croaking ravens and things that go bump in the night, but sisters Rebecca Lovell and Megan Lovell live up to their family heritage, as devious and dangerous with their in-your-face blues licks as their distant ancestor Edgar Allen Poe was with words. Rebecca does that Jimmy Page thing on her Fender Jazzmaster, while Megan sidles up underneath on her 1940s Rickenbacker lap steel.
Influenced by rockers from Rod Stewart and Creedence to the Allman Brothers and Led Zep, with a stopover to pick up Earl Scruggs and hang around Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Otis Redding, the duo has been mentored by Elvis Costello, whom they met at MerleFest over decade ago. As Larkin Poe, the Lovells pave their bluesy highway with a coating that stands up to a ton of wear.
A Hill Country drone with a big foot stomp, “She’s a Self Made Man” quickly establishes what you’re gonna be getting from these women throughout Self Made Man, the album: A no-nonsense approach that demands respect but still is lots of fun to listen to.
Singing like fallen angels celebrating their tumble to earth but not bound by its gravity, they light up the joint with “Holy Ghost Fire.”
There are no half-ass offerings here. The sisters are fully invested in anything they tackle, and they deliver it with a power and fire that snaps your head back. They wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the record except “God Moves on the Water,” a tune Blind Willie Johnson recorded in 1929. Blind Willie has been a go-to source before for Larkin Poe, who researched and borrowed a smidgen from his version of “John the Revelator” on a cover for 2018’s Peach. But the Lovells don’t take much, just a little off the top and then add their own sides and bottom for a structure that stands firm on its own.
“Ex Con” is what country ought to sound like, like Merle Haggard fronting Joan Jett, backed into a corner and ready to fight.
Self Made Man is great stuff by a couple of self-made women who know how to build stuff that lasts.