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Larkin Poe | Venom & Faith

Atlanta's Lovell sisters continue to reinvent the blues on their fourth full-length.

Buddy Guy sounded a little worried when I spoke to him a few years ago. What had him concerned? Nothing less than the future of the blues: The veteran singer-guitarist feared that once all the oldsters like him were gone, there wouldn’t be anyone around to pick up the torch and carry on the tradition. Perhaps if he heard Larkin Poe‘s fourth album Venom & Faith — or the three preceding it, for that matter — he might feel differently. Or not. It’s hard to say. After all, while this sister-led neo-blues outfit from Atlanta keeps one foot firmly rooted in the earthy blues traditionalism so important to OGs like Buddy, their other foot is brazenly stomping straight into the technological future. That dichotomy — which manifests itself in a sound that marries old-school songcraft and organic instrumentation to cutting-edge production and contemporary electro sonics — has long been their hallmark. On the self-assured and consistently potent Venom & Faith, the Lovell sisters continue to refine it into their own distinctive musical brand. Part of the time, they revamp and upgrade a classic like Bessie JonesSometimes (famously sampled in Moby‘s Honey) or Skip JamesHard Time Killing Floor Blues with punchy drums and beatboxes, big basslines and horns, dusty textures and muscular slide guitars. The rest of the time, they creatively channel their vintage influences into original material that showcases their sisterly harmonies and interwoven guitars. But either way, it’s clear they’re neither dilettantes nor poseurs. In every gritty vocal and haunting slide line, their love and respect for the genre — not to mention their years of experience — are both formidable and unmistakable. So whether a purist like Buddy would approve of them or not, he’s got nothing to worry about. The blues are in good hands as long as artists like this care enough to reinvent them with respect. And if you love the blues, you need to get this sucker in your hands pronto.

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