Acclaimed roots-rock duo Larkin Poe have partnered with innovative hybrid orchestra Nu Deco Ensemble for Paint the Roses: Live in Concert — a new album that reinterprets Larkin Poe’s music, including their 2020 release Self Made Man and more, through an orchestral lens. The latest single from the project, a version of Bessie Jones’ stomp-and-clap “Sometimes,” is out now.
Originally recorded for Larkin Poe’s 2019 Grammy-nominated album Venom & Faith, the sister duo explains: “We have always held out hope that we’d someday be able to ‘Sometimes’ with a horn section. Performing this song with the support of Nu Deco Ensemble — and their incredible horn section — was a dream finally come true!”
Nu Deco Ensemble Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Jacomo Bairos and Sam Hyken were thrilled to bring “Sometimes” to life. Bairos explains: “This pump-you-up, full of energy song is just what is needed to rocket you off towards an amazing day! I fell in love with it because of the marching band-esque breakdown in the middle, which brought me such nostalgia from when I was a kid in band.” Hyken continues: “This was one of the first songs we requested as part of our collaboration, as it fits the ethos of our ensemble perfectly. This arrangement preserves all of the fantastic elements found within their studio record, while adding new string lines and percussion to create an exciting and virtuosic opener to our album.”
Paint the Roses documents a collaborative, streamed concert by the two artistic groups in December, 2020 at Miami’s North Beach Bandshell. The performance was part of Nu Deco’s 2020-21 virtual and socially-distanced concert season, which featured the ensemble’s genre-bending orchestral music and its powerful first collaboration with Larkin Poe.
Larkin Poe — a Nashville-based sister-duo comprising multi-instrumentalists Rebecca and Megan Lovell — had recorded their fifth album Self Made Man (which topped the Billboard Blues Album chart and UK’s Independent and Americana Albums charts)in the summer of 2020 but could not take the music on the road due to COVID-19 restrictions. Nu Deco Ensemble’s collaborative concert provided the duo their first chance to play the new record’s songs for a live audience. The tracks on Self Made Man (and now on Paint the Roses) draw on wide influences but are rooted in the creative heritage of Larkin Poe’s beloved American South and Southern Gothic themes.
“During the challenging times of this past year, music served the critical purpose of connection to one another,” Jacomo Bairos and Sam Hyken of Nu Deco Ensemble explain. “Among those valuable connections was our first collaboration with the amazing duo Larkin Poe and the live album that resulted from it.”
Larkin Poe added, “Before we could even speak in full sentences, our introduction to the language of music began with classical violin and piano lessons; ever since then, music has been the bedrock upon which we’ve built our lives.
“Over the years we have drawn inspiration from a wide range of genres, but it has always been a dream of ours to find a way to honor our classical upbringing. ‘Paint The Roses’ was born out of a fortuitous, one-night collaboration with Nu Deco Ensemble.
“In hearing our Roots Rock n Roll repertoire reinterpreted through an orchestral lens, it felt like a creative circle was being completed; we wanted to share the performance on a grander scale and, thus, our first-ever live album came into being. We are deeply indebted to Sam Hyken for writing such incredible orchestra arrangements and also to Jacomo Bairos for conducting such a magical evening of music.”