Review: Stoney LaRue – Onward

Stoney LaRue will release his new album Onward on Nov. 1. It is his first studio album since Us Time in 2015. Onward contains 13 songs and it was produced by Gary Nicholson, who also co-wrote 10 of the songs on the album. It’s an album that is reflective without being dark.

The first single from the album is called “Hill Country Boogaloo,” which is one of the most up-tempo and fun songs on the album. This is a song that shows his Texas pride and makes you want to move around, whether it’s in a chair or on a dance floor.

The second song from the album to be released was “Message In A Bottle” and it was released earlier this month. It is completely different from “Hill Country Boogaloo” and tells the story of a man who finds a message in a bottle, but it’s not the kind that sometimes washes up on beaches. This message in a bottle was left on a table and by the door. The significance of it being left there is being a place where he would be sure to find it, hinting that the woman who wrote the letter has left him for his drinking.

There are some cover songs recorded on this album. “Fallin’ Or Flyin’,” which was part of the 2009 movie Crazy Heart, is one cover song that appears on the album. I was happy to hear LaRue’s version on “Worry Be Gone,” a song co-written by Nicholson, Guy Clark and Lee Roy Parnell. I remember hearing a version of this song on Willie Nelson’s 2008 Moment OF Forever album as a duet with Kenny Chesney.

I believe LaRue did a wonderful job on both songs. Both songs were co-written by Nicholson and these songs feel like they really fit on this album. LaRue is able to make them his own and they don’t feel like cover songs. I remembered “Worry Be Gone,” but I wouldn’t have connected “Fallin’ Or Flyin'” if it wasn’t part of a release. I don’t think it really matters either, because these are both great song selections and it doesn’t take away from them that they had been recorded previously by other artists.

Merle Haggard’s “Let’s Chase Each Other Around The Room” is the most recognizable cover song on the album. The Haggard cover was included as a tribute to his grandparents. I was impressed that LaRue was able to make the song his own while still paying respect to the classic song.

One of my favorite songs on the album is “You Ought To Know Me By Now,” a song Nicholson and Shawn Camp wrote specifically for LaRue. Another highlight of the album is “Meet Me In The Middle,” which is a duet with country legend Tanya Tucker.

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