Larkin Poe, “Summer, an EP”
Boy do I love this EP, the second part of Larkin Poe’s Four Seasons-esque project. The promise that Rebecca and Megan Lovell showed as two-thirds of The Lovell Sisters is developing into an ever more brilliant and adventurous sound. Even as Summer represents a significant step forward from Larkin Poe’s excellent first EP Spring, it also shifts back towards The Lovell Sisters’s Time to Grow: I hear more of that CD’s intricate interplay of instruments and voices, and a more 3 dimensional sound. Listening to Summer on my good headphones is revelatory.
Every song on Summer is strong, but for me the final two tracks are the most exciting. “Enough For You” features a riff that would be at home on the seminal Strength in Numbers album (made by the most super of groups: Bush, Douglas, Fleck, O’Connor, and Meyer). And its final chorus gets downright contrapuntal. Gives me chills. “By The Pier” is gloriously haunting. It’s exactly the sound of a summer night on a coast near you. Listen to it tonight with the lights low and you’ll see what I mean.
I have to mention one more thing I love about Summer, something very small and easy to miss. In the first seconds of “Wrestling A Stranger” Rebecca’s voice cracks for a millisecond as she sings “The fields are on fire.” It would have been easy to rerecord the vocal and smooth out that line. I’m so glad she didn’t. In a song about human frailty, this moment of vulnerability is absolutely perfect. It’s a sign of maturity and true understanding of how to connect emotionally with the listener.
The only thing I could ask for in future Larkin Poe projects is a return to The Lovell Sisters’s custom of including instrumental tunes on their CDs. Rebecca and Megan Lovell (along with their supporting band, Daniel Kimbro, Mike Seal, and Chad Melton) are such gifted musicians that it’s impossible not to want to hear them lay down an instrumental track or two.
Larkin Poe bring together emotional expressiveness, beautiful melodies, technical mastery, and tasteful restraint in a way that’s tremendously compelling. They make me want to quote Bill Graham and say, “They’re not the best at what they do; they’re the only ones who do what they do.”
Summer was released August 3, 2010 by 2 DefPig Records.