Reviews

Stoney LaRue’s Onward

Stoney LaRue "Onward"
By Brian Rock

Red Dirt Troubadour, Stoney LaRue presses forward on his sixth studio release, Onward. Nearing the end of his second decade of making music, LaRue is at a point in his career where most artists stop and reflect on their life choices and wrestle with regrets and wrong turns. Defying expectations, LaRue joyfully asserts, “I’m now getting back to being happy.” Whether he is ahead of the philosophical curve and has already made peace with his past, or whether he is now enjoying the choices that will later lead to regret and reflection remains to be seen. But where he is now is filled with a contagious joy that radiates from his music.

“Hill Country Boogaloo” sings the praises of his native Texas with a Dr. John “Right Time” Southern Funk backbeat. Singing, “We got ways of making music. We all just love to play. We get everybody dancing in their own kind of way,” he hints at what lies ahead. With Country, Rock, Barrelhouse Blues, Dixieland, Gospel, and of course Red Dirt influences, LaRue has no shortage of ways of making music. And his down-home voice has just the right touch of authentic Southern charm without being exaggerated for effect or polished for marketing.

His cover of “Falling And Flying” from the movie Crazy Heart is a prime example. His unvarnished voice and musical sensibilities create the rare cover that’s better than the original. With touches of Cajun and Rockabilly and with a voice that’s just a little rough around the edges, LaRue creates a less polished and more believable account of reckless living. And when he sings, “If there’s such a thing as too much fun, this must be the price you pay,” you get the feeling that the fun is definitely worth the cost.

Tanya Tucker joins LaRue for the sultry, bluesy “Meet In The Middle.” Organ, harmonica, and guitar create a pulsing, danceable Blues beat while Tanya and Stoney sing, “We got to meet in the middle, if we’re gonna go all the way.” LaRue’s cover of Merle Haggard’s “Let’s Chase Each Other Round The Room,” increases the tempo of the original to add even more excitement to the chase. “High Times” is an organ driven ode to painting the town. “Evil Angel” is a Gospel tinged testament to the power of temptation. And the Guy Clark (with Lee Roy Powell and Gary Nicholson) penned “Worry Be Gone,” is a back-deck Blues celebration of giving in to one specific temptation.

But of course, it is life’s lows that make life’s highs so enjoyable. And like any self-respecting Country artist LaRue has his share of sorrows. “You Oughta know Me By Now,” is a ramblin’ man’s lament for his latest broken heart. But even in remorse, the weeping of the steel guitar is buoyed by organ strains and harmonica notes that turn the tale from bitter to bittersweet. “Not One Moment” creates a similar bittersweet feel as he yearns for his distant lover: “No matter what joy or tears that I find, there’s not one moment you’re not on my mind.” He even channels his inner George Jones for the traditional Country stylings of “Message In A Bottle.”

Whatever hardships may befall Stoney LaRue, he seems content to shrug them off and move on. Counting his blessings instead of his blunders helps him get back to being happy. Following his example and perhaps playing some of his music, just might help all of us follow our bliss as we move “Onward” through our lives.

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Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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