Stoney LaRue Moves ‘Onward’ With New Album

Stoney LaRue | Onward | (One Chord)

Videos by American Songwriter

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Touted as an album that “represents Stoney’s stance in life these days, overcoming personal struggles and moving onward to the light,” Stoney LaRue’s latest is indeed aptly titled.  Produced by veteran singer, songwriter and producer Gary Nicholson, it’s also an assertive effort that belies any actual sense of anguish or uncertainty.

A proud son of the Texas Hill Country and an artist whose credits include work with Miranda Lambert, Tanya Tucker, the McCrary Sisters, Cody Canada and Jason Boland, LaRue has always admitted to being an insurgent of sorts. A rowdy raconteur, he proudly touts the joys of his adopted home state on the song “Hill Country Boogaloo,” while proclaiming his penchant for carousing and carrying on through songs such as “Falling and Flying” (a cover of the Nicholson song featured in the film “Crazy Heart”)  and “Meet Me in the Middle,” an unapologetic duet with the aforementioned Ms. Tucker. However he also offers a softer side as well, particularly on the opening track “You Oughta Know Me By Now” and later, with “Not One Moment” and “Thought You’d Want To Know,” songs that suggest that despite that gruff exterior, he can also express a decidedly softer side.

It’s not surprising then that one of the tracks, “Message in the Bottle,” has him insisting that he’s turned his life around. Whether or not that statement should be taken serio usly remains to be seen, but with the song that follows, “Evil Angel,” he points a proverbial finger at the evil influences that supposedly steer him towards those darker designs. With the McCary Sisters singing back-up vocals in the form of a heavenly choir, it boasts a gospel-like flourish and sanctified sentiment. 

Indeed, in the midst of all the pouting and postering, LaRue appears anxious to find repentance and to steady himself as he moves forward. “Drowning in the Moonlight” is an ideal example; it finds LaRue expressing gratitude for a woman who supposedly persuaded him to abandon his reckless ways and subsequently save himself in the process. 

Still, for all the struggle Onward implies, Onward isn’t all about confession or contrition. There’s ample infusion of songs related to romance and various attempts at flings and flirtation. Pedal steel, barroom piano and honky tonk rhythms provide the appropriate down home attributes LaRue needs to affirm the fact that he remains a good old boy at heart. He may be moving Onward, but his true direction is yet to be determined. 

Dustin Welch Makes a Dark Return on ‘Amateur Theatre’