WINNIPEG FREE PRESS - John Kendle - May 9, 2019 ★★★★ out of five
Keri Latimer has been making music in Winnipeg for nearly 25 years. Through her time with Special Fancy (a ’90s trio with Christine Fellows and Barry Mirochnick), Nathan (which won a Juno Award in 2008) and now Leaf Rapids (a core duo of Latimer and her bass-playing husband, Devin), she has always been a uniquely disarming songwriter. Keri’s sweet, warm voice and her penchant for old-time folk and country-tinged roots pop belie her sharp, observational writing which, when combined with her empathetic nature, conjures all sorts of interesting characters.
On Citizen Alien, Leaf Rapids’ second album, many of these characters are drawn from her family history. The title track is inspired by her maternal grandmother’s family, Japanese-Canadians who were stripped of their property and sent to an internment camp during the Second World War. Barbershop Shears relates how her great-grandmother taught a lesson to a lumberjack client with wandering hands by stabbing him in the leg. Parliament Gardens is about a great-grand-uncle who won the Victoria Cross for bravery in the First World War and was left shocked and shattered by what he saw and experienced.
Three of the album’s best songs are bound by family of another type, as Dear Sister, Virginia and Twenty Storeys High are wistful, wonderfully spun lyrics about women and motherhood and sexuality.
All 10 songs are set to gentle, keening melodies, carefully shaped by Latimer and co-producer Rusty Matyas and impressively coloured by such otherworldly sounds as Keri’s theremin or Bill Western’s pedal steel. Helen’s Waltz even features the youngest Latimers, Oscar and Hazel.
Stream these: Dear Sister; Citizen Alien; Twenty Storeys High