Release Date: 20th November 2020
Record Label: Tricki-Woo Records
For Fans Of: Wildwood Kin, The Staves
In 2015, country-blues darlings Larkin Poe started a YouTube channel as a way of paying tribute to their musical heroes in the form of covering some of the most iconic songs in rock, blues and country. What started off as a relatively simple concept has transcended into one of the most beautiful and innovative albums of the past decade – Kindred Spirits – bursting with imaginative cover versions of some of the best-known songs from a huge variety of genres.
The musical arrangements throughout the entirety of the record create an effortless rise and fall flow that breathes new life into these much-loved classics. From the smooth blues intro of Robert Johnson’s ‘Hellhound On My Trail’ to a complete reinvention of Post Malone’s ‘Take What You Want’, the acoustic nature of the album allows Larkin Poe to emphasise their breath-taking musicianship and raw passion for performing. Their stripped-back rendition of ‘Fly Away’ (Lenny Kravitz) is one of the best covers of any song in years, possibly even ever, with every single lyric and guitar lick fully exposed in a truly heartfelt way that’s almost impossible to convey when singing someone else’s lyrics. The delicate vocals and sweet harmonies are almost childlike at times, as though Larkin Poe are reflecting back to the music that shaped their formative years and allowing it to live through them. Though it’s primarily an acoustic album, songs like ‘Rockin In The Free World’ (Neil Young) and ‘(You’re The Devil) In Disguise’ (Elvis Presley) offer gritty lead guitar tones that dissipate into the background to create a lavish ambience that floats between the vocals, shifting between harsh rock & roll and gentle, slightly moody reprises. The inclusion of Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love’ brings a fun element to the blues and breaks up the rather dulcet undertones that characterise the rest of the record.
When looking through the track list for Kindred Spirits there’s one song that stands out above all the others: Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’. The powerful lead vocals and rich harmonies create a gorgeous blend with the guitars and subtle drumbeat. There’s no huge emphasis put on that iconic drum fill and the song actually stays fairly subdued for its entirety, although that actually affirms it as a genuine reinvention of a classic song rather than turning it into a parody.
With such a broad range of songs featured, Kindred Spirits has something for everyone. There’s not a bad song on the entire album and each cover exposes a new layer of emotion within the lyrics. There’s an age-old debate that surfaces every time a song is covered – is it better or worse than the original? Larkin Poe have created a piece of art that surpasses any petty arguments and can simply be enjoyed for what it is: a beautifully crafted masterpiece.
Rating – 9/10
Recommended Tracks – ‘In The Air Tonight’, ‘Fly Away’