Texas/Red Dirt icon Stoney LaRue released his latest album Onward this month, his first since he blessed us with Us Time four years ago. LaRue is one of the most decorated artists in this scene. One-million plus albums and singles sold, high spots on the Billboard and iTunes charts, and a debut performance at the holy grail of country music, the Grand Ole Opry. This tremendous success hasn’t come without sacrifice and dedication though — he’s been on the road playing shows for nearly two decades, spending two hundred nights per year on stage.
The album’s title, Onward, is representative of the current direction of LaRue’s life. The past few years for LaRue have not been free from adversity, but he isn’t letting that define his happiness today. He’s channeled his struggles and growth into the creation of this album.
“That’s why this album is called ‘Onward.’ It’s a more mature album written about myself, humanity and the truth. The writing of it turned out to be the medicine that didn’t have to be prescribed.” explained LaRue.
“This record is wading through all the mud and storms to hopefully come out on the other side with a wisdom that you didn’t have before. It’s a brighter way to look at things.”
Onward features collaborations with the McCrary Sisters, Brandon Jenkins, and the one-and-only Tanya Tucker, along with some flawlessly-executed covers: “Falling and Flying” from Crazy Heart and Merle Haggard’s “Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room”. Onward was produced by Grammy-winner Gary Nicholson.
Here’s what you can expect to hear from Onward …
“You Oughta Know Me By Now” is the honest confession of a migrant soul who’s unable to find a home in any place, even in his lover. The balance of the grievous steel guitar and jaunty harmonica allows this track to be both apologetic and endearing.
“Hill Country Boogaloo” is a prideful tribute to the Texas Hill Country, honoring the Guadalupe, John T. Floore’s, and Gruene Hall (the first place I ever saw Stoney play).
“Falling and Flying” is a punchy tune about listening to the devil on your shoulder. “If there’s such a thing as too much fun / this must be the price you pay” … we’ve all been
“Not One Moment” is an unreserved and sincere ballad of a man longing for his steadfast love in a world that moves too quickly.
LaRue pairs up with legendary Tanya Tucker for this fun, harmonica-soaked song. “Meet In The Middle” is about the give and take in relationships. This is the kind of vocal pairing we never knew we needed, but now that we’ve got it, we can’t get enough.
“Message In A Bottle” gives us major old-school vibes with all the components of a classic country tune: an empty bottle, lonely house, and a love done gone.
LaRue belts alongside an echoing gospel choir in “Evil Angel”, confronting the devil on his shoulder that indulges in all the things that burn so good.
“Drowning In Moonlight” is one of those songs that you can’t help but reminisce while listening to. It’s sultry and mature, but at the same time innocent and pure, being saved by an all-consuming love.
Every Texas/Red Dirt album’s gotta have one: the ‘kick-back and have a puff’ song.“Worry Be Gone” has fun instrumentals and a Cajun-feel that just puts you in a good mood.
This is the Stoney sound you could pick out anywhere. “I Can’t Help You Say Goodbye” is a beautifully-twisted, bar-room ballad about the hardest part of leaving: saying goodbye.
LaRue’s cover of Merle Haggard’s “Let’s Chase Each Other Around The Room” is dedicated to his grandparents since it’s their favorite song. We love this light-hearted and flirtatious tune out of LaRue.
“Thought You’d Want to Know” shows us a deep, empathetic side to LaRue — “My love, my love, will shine right through / All this darkness you’ve been shown / It’s gonna shine on”
“High Time”, featuring the late Brandon Jenkins, is an anthem to feeling good and painting the town with your friends. A night with LaRue and Jenkins would be anything but boring.
Check out this live performance of “You Oughta Know Me By Now” recorded at Manchester Music Hall in Lexington, Kentucky and grab a copy of the new album!