Beneath his youthful exterior, Richard Laviolette has rare spirits running amuck, some as rightfully vigorous as a man in his early twenties, others weathered and defeated by generations of hardships. That timeless passion is ubiquitous over the course of All of Your Raw Materials, a bluegrass-tinged folk record that should hold honest appeal to country purists and fans of You’ve Changed Records’ recent roots attraction.
Chocked-full of plump arrangements (including lots of banjo, fiddle and pedal steel) courtesy of the Oil Spills, All of Your Raw Materials surpasses the ambitions of a homage album on the coattails of Laviolette’s voice, all ancient yet wound-up. Although slower tracks like ‘Winterbreath’ and ‘Bodymaps’ serve the bittersweet delights, Laviolette’s charisma on ‘Funeral Song’ is possibly the most charming spit in the face to death I’ve ever heard. With a loose choral chanting behind him, ‘Funeral Song’ evokes all that’s proper about real country music, from its blue-collar camaraderie to some unforgettable musicianship. It’s a DIY punk attitude when the power’s out.
Before All of Your Raw Materials was re-issued by You’ve Changed Records and before Standard Form released it in 2009, it’s worth noting that these recordings were actually made way back in the summer of 2008. It has taken awhile for Richard Laviolette and the Oil Spills to get their due, but I can’t deny that now might be the ideal time to check them out. While All of Your Raw Materials is admittedly too laid back for these dog days of summer, the warmth and longing of its songs should afford some great comforts as September comes calling. Prepare thyself now. Old-time folk and country never goes out of fashion, especially when it’s this effortlessly authenticity.