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Larkin Poe, A Sister Act With Staying-Power


In a way, our next guests can thank public radio for their early success. Almost 10 years ago, the show Prairie Home Companion launched a team talent competition.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: And now let's bring out our first place winners from Calhoun, Georgia, the Lovell Sisters Band, Jessica, Megan, Rebecca.


LOVELL SISTERS BAND: (Singing) Roly-poly, eating golden taters, hungry every minute of the day.

SHAPIRO: Today, their sound is very different. One sister is married and living in Canada. The other two perform as the band Larkin Poe. Their new album is called "Kin."


LARKIN POE: (Singing) It's in the room now. It's in the room now. It's in the room now. It's in the room, room, room. Oh, is a lie still a lie if the words are never spoken? Can a heart be truly broken without an active violence?

SHAPIRO: Will you two just start by introducing yourselves?

REBECCA LOVELL: I'm the baby sister. I'm Rebecca.

MEGAN LOVELL: And I'm the big sister, and I'm Megan.

SHAPIRO: I want to dive right in with the song that has been stuck in my head in the most glorious way for the last three days. It is anthemic and addictive. Just...

R. LOVELL: Anthemic?

SHAPIRO: ...Bursts out of the CD.

R. LOVELL: Ah. "We Intertwine."


LARKIN POE: (Singing) And when my heart can beat no more, I hope I'd die for all the good that's left in this world.

SHAPIRO: I love this song. I love this song.

R. LOVELL: So this was actually a song that we wrote several years ago. It was released on the very first independent project that we ever recorded as Larkin Poe.

M. LOVELL: And over the years, a lot of people have used this song in their weddings and as their first dance song, so we felt we had to bring it back to our first full-length record.


LARKIN POE: (Singing) Yours and mine, thou and thine, and all the ways we intertwine.

SHAPIRO: You both grew up studying classical music. Do you remember the first time the two of you sang together?

M. LOVELL: Yeah, it was when Rebecca was about six and I was probably seven. And we sang in the church choir. Our mom was really the one who wanted us to be involved in music 'cause she had always wanted to be when she was young.

R. LOVELL: And I remember being in the choir with Megan and Jessica. When we were growing up, I had a really bad stutter, and so most everyone besides Megan couldn't understand what I was staying. So I think that we established this really interesting way of communicating with each other.

So we say our words so similarly, and it's absolutely effortless. Like we'll be in the car just driving along and just break into spontaneous harmony. I think it's really annoying for a lot of people. But it's kind of our bread and butter. We love it.

SHAPIRO: Can you give us a sample of that song you sang in choir all those 20 or almost 20 years ago?

R. LOVELL: Yeah, let me think.

LARKIN POE: (Singing) When Jesus wept, the falling tear in mercy flowed beyond all bound. When Jesus groaned, a trembling fear seized all the guilty, world around.

SHAPIRO: That's beautiful.

M. LOVELL: Thank you.

SHAPIRO: You know, I think nearly everybody sings in the shower but not everybody has voices like the two of you. And I would like to play something you recently posted on your Facebook page which is a video of the two of you, I guess, in a hotel room shower - fully clothed we should specify...

R. LOVELL: Yes, thank you.

SHAPIRO: ...Singing a song called "Black Betty." Let's listen to a little bit of this.


LARKIN POE: (Singing) Ooh. Whoa, Black Betty (bam-ba-lam). Whoa, Black Betty (bam-ba-lam). Black Betty had a child (bam-ba-lam).

SHAPIRO: And we should explain to listeners that you are pounding on the shower wall and clapping as the two of you are singing.

M. LOVELL: Oh, good lord.

R. LOVELL: A shower makes a great kick drum.

M. LOVELL: It does make a good kick drum.


LARKIN POE: (Singing) She really gets me high (bam-ba-lam).

SHAPIRO: OK, so I know you didn't come prepared for this but can you imagine the studio you're in right now is a hotel room shower stall and treat whatever you've got in front of you as a kick drum and just give us a little bit of something off-the-cuff?

M. LOVELL: We could do something like "Wade In the Water."

R. LOVELL: Oh, yeah. That's a good one. Wade in the water.

LARKIN POE: (Singing) Wade in the water. Wade in the water children. Wade in the water. He's going to trouble the water. He's going to trouble the water.

SHAPIRO: That was awesome. We're talking with Rebecca and Megan Lovell of the band Larkin Poe who are just riffing in the studio in Atlanta.

This album has a really forward-driving rhythmic punch up until we get to the very last track.


R. LOVELL: (Singing) Overachiever, you've always been running in and out of trouble, time again.

SHAPIRO: This is so sweet. Tell us what we're listening to.

M. LOVELL: This is one of the most personal songs I think Rebecca has ever written. And when we were recording it in the studio, we turned all the lights off. And she went in and sang that pretty much just one take through. Like that's the first take. And when I was listening to her sing, it just felt so real and personal that I actually started to cry when she was singing that. I just love that song.


R. LOVELL: (Singing) You have strangled all the good things one by one.

SHAPIRO: Well, tell us what makes it so real and personal.

R. LOVELL: Being an artist, I think especially at a young artist, as a songwriter it never stops for me. I'm a little obsessed. This song, for me, was really therapeutic to write just to kind of remind myself that I'm not always going to have the perfect words to say.

And it is always a journey, and I have to go a little bit easy on myself. It can be a little overwhelming sometimes. And so just having a song like "Overachiever" to sing and put it back into perspective for me was really important.

SHAPIRO: Megan and Rebecca Lovell are sisters who write and sing as the band Larkin Poe. They spoke with us from Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta. Thanks much for talking with us.

R. LOVELL: Thank you so much for having us.

M. LOVELL: Thank you.


LARKIN POE: (Singing) Don't try to lie. Don't try to tell me. Don't try to buy. Don't try to sell me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.