Leaf Rapids is a Canadian duo comprising husband-and-wife team Devin and Keri Latimer (veterans of the band Nathan), who have now sought out legendary producer Steve Dawson to realise Keri's latest musical vision. For it's Keri who's the guiding and creative force behind Lucky Stars; she's produced a set of songs built around the concept of trust and learning to let go - doubly hard for someone known for being a control freak, she openly admits in interview. Her lyrics suggested spacious, atmospheric treatments, the likes of which for Steve are a speciality, thus enabling Keri herself to concentrate on giving even more heartfelt vocal performances than usual.
As a singer, Keri's able to deliver over a convincing mix of stylings within her songwriting, and the ten originals here range from the simple romantic virtues of the title song to the altogether moodier, slightly eastern-tinged Vulture Lullaby, the soulful Everything In Between and the straighter country vibe of Gravity And A Ladder Of Gold. The bluegrassy April is most attractive too, as is Galaxie 500, which sports a kindof latter-day Emmylou demeanour. Throughout, two linking musical signatures are provided by Steve's pedal steel moulding and Keri's own prowess on the theremin; the two instrumental tone-colours blend and mingle well on the final cut, a quite unexpected (and successful) cover of David Bowie's The Man Who Sold The World that leaves us with a distinctly sci-fi taste in the mind (especially after the 60s twang-and-jangle of the preceding track, Agent Of The Night).
The album's other cover's a good one too: Rennie Sparks' Don't Be Scared, whose theme fits snugly with Keri's own writing. The only song of Keri's that doesn't quite convince me is Healing Feeling, where the images feel overly obvious, even forced, but otherwise the cool and assured intimacy of the whole production really helps Keri's lyrics hit home, and her special vocal qualities prove just right for the material - as you'd expect. There are moments when Keri's soft winsome tones start to grate a touch, despite her uncanny sense of poise and grace, and one or two tracks (such as the opener Virtual Machine) do get a little wearisome as a result, but generally the combination of delivery and production values wins us over.