Juliet Palmer is not the first artist to draw parallels between the body’s circulatory system and the tree branches, streams, and rivers in the natural landscape, but she has an undeniably unique spin on it: she’s doubtless the first person to set Emily Dickinson’s poetry to ultrasound recordings of human blood flowing. Despite the intriguing background flows of water (in the form of field recordings of Toronto rivers) and of blood, as well as sparse electronics, Palmer’s focus remains fixed firmly on the human voice.

The six tracks on Rivers explore a lot of things a human voice can do when it’s set free from expectations. Palmer enlists a group of lead singers including Laura Swankey, Alex Samaras, Aki Takahashi, and Christine Duncan, plus a host of background vocalists, to follow her starkly beautiful compositions along their meandering paths. On “Dreaming of Trees (Singing River),” Samaras, accompanied by tinkling keyboard and angelic choir, makes Nicholas Power’s lyrics about desire sound positively liturgical, while in “Burble (Singing River)” Swankey’s voice trips and bubbles along like a spring brook, as she invites an oar to join in. Christine Duncan’s post-apocalyptic scenario is set against ominous electronic noises and a disembodied radio voice in “Litany (After the End),” and in “Simple Death (Slip)” Takahashi’s voice haunts a traditional Japanese folk melody (with lyrics by Anna Chatterton) for a suitably unsettling finish.