Richard Laviolette “Taking The Long Way Home” (You’ve Changed Records, 2017)

This is a good record – nicely written, songs performed well, you can’t really want for much more! Richard Laviolette is the real deal, a singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada, Taking the Long Way Home is his eighth album since his debut recording (Mary Carl) in 2005 and it’s clear that he’s honed his craft over those intervening twelve years. These are songs about family and friends, about love and loss, about strong characters and about a sense of mortality – all human life is here. Laviolette clearly draws on his own experiences as the inspiration for his songs and, along with some serious heart searching, there’s also some philosophising and not a little humour – My Grandma’s More Punk (Than Most Punks I know) certainly raises a smile on the title alone. 

Opening track Grey Rain sets a nice tone for the album but the early stand out track is Someone to Tell My Story When I’m Gone, which has good pace and an upbeat feel that belies its more sombre, reflective lyrics. There’s really not a bad track here and there does seem to be something for everyone – including an instrumental track, Louella Austella, driven along with some very nice pedal steel licks. Title track Taking the Long Way Home is almost anthemic in its lyricism and the album is full of good storytelling.

It’s worth mentioning that all the musicians joining Laviolette on this recording are excellent, the piano playing of Lisa Bozikovic is particularly worth singling out, as is the vocal harmony work of Jessy Bell Smith – just once or twice it was almost like listening to Gram and Emmylou! Even the cover art has a simple elegance to it that’s a pretty good metaphor for the music within – familiar and comfortable. Well worth your time.

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