Home New music in our mailbox! Album review: Leaf Rapids – Velvet Paintings

Album review: Leaf Rapids – Velvet Paintings

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Gordy the moose reviews some of his favourite new submissions to the Roots Music Canada virtual mailbox.

The publicity shots for Leaf Rapids’ new album tell you much of what you need to know about the music you’ll hear on it. They feature the band posing on a red, crushed-velvet sofa, co-founder Devin Latimer sporting a shabby cowboy hat and shiny black blazer, and guitarist Chris Dunn sporting a velvet blazer to match the couch. There are cowboy boots all round, and the titular velvet paintings hang on the wall behind them.

This album, like the photo, is pure, cinematic Americana at its finest, with the sweet, distinctive vocals of Keri Latimer right up front.

But while the photos are vintage, the lyrics comment on the wild west of today, rather than yesterday.

“Don’t be so melodramatic / It’s just a semi-automatic / Anyone can get one down the street,” Keri sings on the opening title track.

“Glory to the CEOs / Never mind the holy ghost / Everybody get down on your knees”

One particularly awe-inspiring piece of songwriting is “Silver Fillings,” which introduces the rare-but-documented experience of picking up radio signals through one’s dental work while contemplating the prospect of making contact with other worlds – and the existential questions that idea brings up about how we might live out our days as a species and meet our end.

“Why is it so hard to love?” Keri sings, with Joanna Miller providing beautiful harmony vocals.

“It’s a miracle we’re here at all. Why is it so hard to love?”

Keri’s renowned theremin playing is heard just once on this album that I can detect, and that is on the downright spooky “In the Trees,” in which an archetypal haunting becomes a metaphor for a personal one. Even then, it’s subtle and could be mistaken for the pedal steel work that flavours many of the arrangements.

Keri and Devin have been partners in life and music for more than 20 years now, and they had nothing left to prove coming into this record.

They won a Juno for their first project, Nathan, and have been nothing if not consistent ever since.

And they’re not resting on their laurels with this release either.

With Velvet Paintings, they are once again making greatness sound effortless.

 

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