Leaf Rapids are a couple of Canadians moonlighting from the better known Winnipeg-based band Nathan, who have already released four albums since their debut in 2000. They are essentially a duo comprised of Keri Latimer and husband Devin Latimer. The band seems to exist as a vehicle for Keri to get her haunting and slightly surreal songs out through her own channels.
The songs are dreamy and haunting and drenched in aching pedal steel and several doses of the theramin that certainly give the songs an eerie quality that underlines their other worldliness. The songs are short and sweet and there isn't a singsl surplus word here. The title track, Lucky Stars, is a case to point. It's a song that is just dripping with haunted pedal steel guitar. Keri's aching vocal has a real depth of sadness and the small band of muicians set up a beautifull judged piece that evokes feelings of loss and sadness-all that with just 84 words-take that Leonard Cohen! That's followed by a positively bouncing 'Healing Feeling' that has a superb cutting guitar solo from producer Steve Dawson midway through. It has slightly more words than the title track but still manages to call out for a doctor, a poet, and a preacher. The whole album has a really fresh feeling and it's real melodies shine through.
There are two covers here, a mysterious and dark take of The Handsome Family's 'Don't Be Scared' from their album IN THE AIR that is a superb version of a truly excellent song. The album concludes with a brave cover of David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold The World.' It's always a risk covering a song that's so well known as it gives anyone ammunition to deride what you do to a beloved tune. Doubly so in this case as Nirvana's own cover is so well loved that some think that Kurt Cobain actually wrote it. Happily the band gives us a beautiful understated version here that has a languid guitar introduction and a really haungint theramin enhancing closing coda and Keri's voice retains enough mystery and fear throughout to make the whole thing work really well.
The album has a really cohesive feel with a genuine flow from the dreamy opening tracks to the mystery contained in later songs like 'Welcome Stranger' and 'Vulture Lullaby.' There's much to admire here from Keri's cute but tough vocals to the virtuosity of the band and especially the fine fret work of the aforementioned producer/guitarist Steve Dawson.
The album is a real homespun affair with credit going out to the Canadian Government for support and Keri acknowledging the inspiration given by living "north of the 56th in Manitoba, Canada." Keri even designed the haunting cover too. An excellent album that repays repeated listening and is well worth searching out.