The “Western” in Country & Western Music rarely gets mentioned, but country music today owes a great debt to the realities of open-range ranching and days and nights spent on the vast North American prairies; to an age-old celebration of cowboy living. The Canadian prairies have always loomed large in this vision, and today Canada’s Western provinces boast some of the most cutting-edge country roots music. While artists like Kentucky’s Sturgill Simpson or Nashville’s Rosanne Cash craft their own signature country sound, now from Western Canada comes Leaf Rapids, a powerhouse duo who frame their music on a continuum that stretches from the Manitoba grasslands to Nashville’s modern streets. Leaf Rapid’s debut album Lucky Stars is a soundtrack for the modern cowboy–part Canadian trucker, part Manitoba Motown. Lucky Stars brings the deep roots of North America’s great plains into the new millennium.
Fronted by husband & wife Keri & Devin Latimer, Leaf Rapids came out of their popular indie folk band, Nathan, which spent the early 2000’s signed to major label Nettwerk. Winning 2 Canadian Folk Music titles and the 2008 Juno award (Canadian Grammy) for Roots Traditional Album of the Year, Keri and Devin’s outstanding talents grabbed the attention of industry heavy weights, including Canadian roots music producer Steve Dawson. Dawson, a prodigious multi instrumentalist, was eager to work with Keri and Devin on their new project Leaf Rapids via his renowned record labelBlack Hen Music. As a five time Juno award-winning producer, Dawson brought his powerful talents on a wide variety of instruments, from pedal steel to electric guitar, crafting a full band sound for this duo that borders on indie roots.
Named for a small Manitoba town, Leaf Rapids is primarily a reflection of landscape – miles and miles of grass or snow in any direction, and the northern lights dancing above. Their sound resembles the Canadian grasslands, as beautiful as they are harsh, taking notes from Canada’s soft tones and tough seasons. From Keri Latimer’s sweet, Dolly Parton-esque vocal styling, to Devin Latimer’s slow-and-steady bass lines, andSteve Dawson’s ruff-rider Nashville guitar riffs, Lucky Stars wears a three-piece searsucker suit that’s been rubbed in the mud. Featuring Dawson’s dazzling dobro and electric guitar, songs like “April” and “Healing Feeling” are as much country roots as they are atmospheric pop while “Vulture Lullaby” and the title track find focus with a more cosmopolitan Americana sound. “Welcome Stranger” and “Everything in Between” even incorporate a doo-wop sound that drives home the band’s refreshing sonic diversity.
On Lucky Stars, Leaf Rapids shows a far-ranging vision of country & western music that stretches from Manitoba to Memphis.