Put bluntly: Leaf Rapids is simple.
Wait. Stop. That isn’t an insult. Stick with me for a second.
There is something truly charming about the simplicity of Leaf Rapids. Resting very heavily on the shoulders of Keri Latimer’s tumultuous voice, clutter of any kind would simply detract from the strengths of the band. There is no reason for bells, whistles or distractions. She just has to sing.
Think of it this way: when you have a beautiful piece of art, you display it. You put it in the most frequently-visited area in your house and hope everyone notices the way it lights up the room.
Keri Latimer has the ability to light up a room.
With her infectious twang, belted in a manner that could make both Jenny Lewis and Neko Case take notice, Latimer is the real deal. Her pipes will propel her to the next level; her band might as well grab onto her coattails with a white-knuckle grip and hold on for dear life.
Take a look at “Virtual Machine,” the opening track on ‘Lucky Stars’, the band’s debut album; the guitars and progressions calmly, clearly, and unapologetically make way for their female crooner to punch the clock. Softly resting behind her angelic lungs, the song soars.
However, the band is quick to to remind listeners that they have chops as well. On “April,” an Alison Krauss-style bluegrass jam complete with slide guitar and and fiddle, the band trades Canadian lineage for Nashville roots. “Don’t Be Scared” combines the best of both worlds, highlighting Latimer’s gentle and beautiful voice with flawless alternative-country guitar stylings. With a sound that mirrors Blue Rodeo (also from the Canadian scene), the track possesses a vintage storytelling structure and a beautiful slide-guitar sound. Bleeding into the title track, the band’s first four offerings solidify them as flawless singer/songwriters. Their value is undeniable.
Refusing to be written off as a one-trick pony, the band shoves “Healing Feeling” and “Welcome Stranger” onto the album. With a deep 1950’s beach house, dance party vibe, the tracks possess a catchiness compelling listeners toward toe-tapping, head-nodding or general dance shenanigans.
Track for track, Leaf Rapids go toe-to-toe with every new band in the Americana/Alt-Country scene. Although it lacks that one, album-changing song that drives them into a heatseeking category, listeners who keep the words “debut album” in mind should find themselves satisfied, if not intrigued.
As long as Keri is attached to this project, or any project, I’ll be watching their rise. I have no doubt that it will be she who makes all the difference.