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Richard Laviolette – All Wild Things Are Shy

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Richard Laviolette
All Wild Things Are Shy
Cat#: YC-063
Released: September 5, 2024
Format: 2xLP/CD/Digital
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PLEASE NOTE: This is a special Pre-order offer. Any orders including All Wild Things Are Shy will ship on or before September 5, 2024. All Wild Things Are Shy is available on 2×12” (45 RPM) vinyl housed in a gatefold jacket, and on deluxe CD. Both formats contain full handwritten lyrics and original artwork by Richard’s partner, the artist sophia bartholomew.

Richard Laviolette wrote, rehearsed, and recorded All Wild Things Are Shy during the last five years of his life, in the time between his mother’s death from Huntington’s Disease and his own. As with much of his earlier work, including two previous releases on You’ve Changed Records, All Of Your Raw Materials (2010) and Taking The Long Way Home (2017), and a large discography of self-released CDs and digital albums, the songs on All Wild Things Are Shy confront death and mortality directly, while also affirming love, life, and a fundamental belief in the ability of music to bring people together.

Richard formed this band late in 2021, working with Ally Corbett (violin), Dave Snider (bass), Jordan Howard (guitar), Matt Reeves (guitar), and Rich Burnett (drums) to develop the album, with long-time collaborator Jessy Bell Smith (vocals) later joining the group. They played their first show in July 2022 at the Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound, and their last show in September 2022 at The Tranzac in Toronto. By the end of October 2022, Richard was unable to continue performing live. The Huntington’s symptoms came on hard and fast, including a loss of coordination and dexterity, loss of vocal control, difficulty answering questions or making decisions, anxiety, overwhelm, and what Richard described as a mental fog or “mental molasses”.

When recording began at Scott Merritt’s the cottaGe in January 2023, Richard believed that there would be more records after this one, but what was planned as a few weeks of recording soon became a slower and longer process. Richard tinkered with each of the arrangements, working to eliminate anything that was not essential and creating an immediate and direct presentation of the songs. The record is a testament to his unique vision of rock music, a vision which incorporated a great love for traditional forms of rock, folk, country, and gospel music, influenced by a life-long, embedded practice, working within a living community of DIY songwriters and musicians.

Milkweed and Motherwort opens the album with a Crazy Horse stomp, anxious verses broken open by agitated electric guitar. Welcome Back is a slowly building tribute to endurance, a song of experience and survival. Side One ends with the stunningly perfect gospel folk anthem Don’t Quit On Me. Florence and Delilah is stark, rudimentary rock and roll, with a group of singers declaring over a minor key “We are going to get through”, offering solace and solidarity in the face of any trouble or stormy weather. Catacombs is a slow, perfectly arranged epic, effortlessly holding a heavy, beautiful life-sorrow. On the gentle title track, Constantines singer Bry Webb and Steph Yates of Cots share lead vocals, finding renewed possibilities in new love, while a lovely, graceful verse describing pulling a copy of Magnolia Electric Co’s Josephine from the shelf reveals one of the major touchstones for this record. The shambling road-trip anthem Carter & Cash further salutes the music of family and community, as Richard, who worked for some time as a bus driver, travels with a large, rambling group to a small-town DIY show. Saved By Rock and Roll is an eerie and ambiguous dirge, featuring droning organs, haunted accordions, and a choir of deathless singers; “A little destruction will make you whole” Richard sings unforgettably, reveling in the “dirty beats and dissonant tones”. For those of us who loved him, All Wild Things Are Shy is a heavy listen. It is also a courageous and generous gift, a cathartic, beautiful work from an artist whose time was running out far too early, far too soon. Train of Death bravely manifests this loss of time, an impossibly stirring countdown, a sing-a-long dance to the edge. The album ends with the hushed and wonderfully distilled Constant Love.

In the last months of his life, his love for his family and his community and his desire to see this album through are what kept Richard going. Working closely with Scott Merrit and Rich Burnett, he was able to complete the recording process and to give clear directions for the mixing, artwork, and final presentation of All Wild Things Are Shy.

With the rapid acceleration of Huntington’s symptoms compounded by complex long-term health issues, Richard chose to receive medical assistance in dying (MAID) on September 5, 2023. We miss him dearly.

Track Listing
  • Milkweed and Motherwort
  • Welcome Back
  • Don’t Quit On Me
  • Florence and Delilah
  • Catacombs
  • All Wild Things Are Shy
  • Carter and Cash
  • Pack It Up
  • Captain Of The Nighttime
  • Saved By Rock and Roll
  • Train Of Death
  • Constant Love
  • Produced by Richard Laviolette, with assistance from Scott Merritt and mix assistance from Rich Burnett.
  • Album artwork by sophia bartholomew.
  • Recorded and mixed by Scott Merritt at the cottaGe, Guelph, ON, Canada.
  • Except for: Steel guitar (Captain), electric guitar (Milkweed), acoustic guitar (All Wild), and all hammond organs & acoustic pianos recorded by Rich Burnett at Lime Hill.
  • Reed organ (Don’t Quit) recorded by Andrew Collins at Wildlife Sanctuary Sound.
  • Performed by: Rich Burnett, Dave Snider, Tyson Brinacombe, Scott Merritt, Jessy Bell Smith, Andrew Collins, Matt Reeves, Jordan Howard, Ally Corbett, Meredith Grant
  • choir: sophia bartholomew, Rich Burnett, Andrew Collins, Lisa Conway, Scott Haynes, Grant MacLeod, Marnie McCourty, Jenny Mitchell, Kirsten Palm, Matt Reeves, Dave Snider, Claire Whitehead
  • Bry Webb and Steph Yates sing lead vocals on the track All Wild Things Are Shy