Larkin Poe: Self Made Man

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Larkin Poe’s last album was, to put it kindly, a little unmemorable so we were totally not expecting the opening track on this new one: a huge, bluesy Led Zep meets Black Keys riff that needs to be played loud, from the opening high hats onward.

Remarkably, they keep the standard up, more impressive because they write, play and produce pretty much the whole album and quality control could have been an issue. The less memorable previous album did show they had a good ear for melody and that works well here, with melody underlying the bluesy guitar – the music is blues with added pop, metal and hair rock.

On one level it’s simple – Holy Ghost Fire uses a stomping beat similar to Joan Jett’s We Love Rock n Roll, but with swampy blues guitar – but it’s not easy to make simple songs, and when you listen there’s a lot going on, too.

Keep Diggin is a more sing-along tune, percussion coming from handclaps, kick drum and drum sticks using chair backs (possibly) as cowbells; several songs rely on the handclaps. Tears Of Blue To Gold adds Glitter Band 70s stomp to the sampled genres, while Scorpion nicks the riff from Spirit In The Sky before going all Jack White towards the end.

The lyrics are simple – although the title track is actually She’s A Self-Made Man – and not dumb: “The Trees Down in Georgia / Grow Tall As A Cross” harks at the darker history of the Southern states while “Sing it in the kitchen / And pass the ammunition” seems more affectionate than mocking.

Blues purists might find it a little adulterated by pop, though the fine playing might balance this out, and while it’s radio friendly, there are many musically solid moments.

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