Artists like Andy Shauf, Julie Byrne, and Weyes Blood have been helping re-position classic songwriting of late. But far in Canada's underground, an unassuming Guelph songwriter has been doing much of same, far removed from the public eye: enter Richard Laviolette. Via a handful of albums spanning folk, anarchist electro punk, and old-timey country, Richard's managed to amass a dedicated swath of admirers across Canada, despite rarely playing beyond Southern Ontario. His voice has a gritty ease that just torpedoes hearts, leaving you sinking into an oceanic trench of vulnerability. We won't even start about his way of stringing together words so simply and majestically, that you wonder if those words ever existed in the first place.
His latest gem "Take the Long Way Home" came out this month on Toronto's beloved You've Changed Records, so we reached out to a few Arboretum Festival alumni to ask just what makes Richard so damn special.
"Through songwriting, Richard Laviolette shows that storytelling can be an act of compassion and empathy. Through his songs, we are invited to enter into aesthetic worlds that through his words become flesh and through his voice become a force with which to connect to an other." — Toronto musician/writer/broadcaster, Casey Mecija
"As a songwriter, Richard Laviolette should be celebrated, quoted, and covered around campfires by anyone who appreciates the sincere craft of this kind of work. His songs are personal and political, poetic and literal, uplifting and challenging, and all-together free of bullshit. His voice is true and he knows what he’s doing.” — Bry Webb, The Constantines
"Laviolette has a way of writing about life's minute details in a way that is soul-crushingly simple, yet beautiful. HIs writing seems effortless, as if he's lived life a thousand times over and distilled what it means to be alive." — Toronto outsider-folkist, Giant Hand
"Somehow, Richard Lavioloette makes 'keeping it real' sublime. Richard's music is truly political folk music, but if I ran a record store I'd keep it in the soul section."
— Montreal's Michael Feuerstack (also of Luyas, Wooden Stars)
Richard Liviolette brings his album release show to Ottawa this Friday, March 17th at Pressed.