Richard Laviolette – Taking The Long Way Home
You’ve Changed Records – 10 March 2017
On his new album, Taking the Long Way Home, Canadian singer/songwriter Richard Laviolette combines roots/country/gospel music with earthy/organic musical accompaniment to deliver a heart-warming, energising album.
Laviolette is a product of south-western Ontario, Canada – growing up as part of a musical extended family (including his parents Darrell and Marie) in the small rural town of Tara, then moving to Guelph to attend university. Recurring themes on Taking the Long Way Home are home (a safe place of comfort), family and rain (both actual and metaphorical).
(Richard Laviolette is also working on a collection of songs about surviving the winter – which will come as no surprise if you find Tara and Guelph on a map or if you’ve been following the weather reports for south-western Ontario.)
Taking the Long Way Home is full of lively, toe-tapping songs, as well as some slower ballads. The album brings back memories of American singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Down at the Twist and Shout and of the vocal harmonies of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.
Taking the Long Way Home was produced with Andy Magoffin (who recorded, mixed and mastered Richard Laviolette and The Oil Spills’ All of Your Raw Materials ). Richard Laviolette (vocals, guitar) is supported by Ontario singer/songwriter Lisa Bozikovic (piano, vocals), Matthew Reeves (guitar), Jessy Bell Smith (of Skydiggers – vocals), Julia Narveson (Ever-Lovin’ Jug Band, Lake of Stew – fiddle, double bass), Aaron Goldstein (pedal steel), Heather Kirby (Ohbijou and feminist art rock band Vag Halen – electric bass), Aaron Curtis (Two-Minute Miracles – drums), Nathan Coles (vocals) and poet Cid V Brunet (vocals). The evocative cover photo, with its worn-in shoes, was taken by Erin E Warner.
Taking the Long Way Home opens with the song Grey Rain, which tells of Richard Laviolette’s childhood home, where the kitchen, living room and porch hosted many family music sessions. The songs Two Guitars, Someone to Tell My Story When I’m Gone, Old Country Music, The Rock and the Moss and Yesterday’s Gospel explore the bonds of family and music. There is also Laviolette’s instrumental tune Louella Austella and the delightfully-titled, sing-a-long song, My Grandma’s More Punk (Than Most Punks I Know), complete with honky-tonk piano. The album closes gently with You’ve Really Got Me on the Run (“you say there’s weather in my bones / feel the rain before it comes / so I know when to stay and when to go”).
Like Paterson, the poet in Jim Jarmusch’s 2016 film Paterson, Richard Laviolette works as a bus driver – an occupation apparently conducive to artistic creativity.
Richard Laviolette has always used music to express himself and to share his true feelings. His mother (Marie), who died recently after being diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease around fifteen years ago, came from a large musical family, which used to have a regular Saturday night family jamboree. The family still gets together every Christmas to spend an afternoon playing tunes.
Richard Laviolette’s Taking the Long Way Home, which is available on CD, vinyl and as a digital download, is food for the soul.
Out Now, Order via Bandcamp.
Photo Credit: Colin Medley (source: You’ve Changed Records)