Few can claim direct involvement with the formation of Oklahoma’s distinct mix of country, rock, and roots music known affectionately as Red Dirt, and Stoney LaRue is one of them. Born in Taft, Texas and growing up in Southeastern Oklahoma, the brother of Bo Phillips once swept the floors at the Tumbleweed Dancehall in the Red Dirt epicenter of Stillwater, and lived in the “Yellow House” with Cody Canada and Jason Boland. Stoney released a ragtag of records early in his career until his 2011 album Velvet really put him on the map as his own man, charting on the Billboard country charts at #15.
Stoney LaRue has been a warrior of the Texas and Red Dirt touring circuit for nearly 20 years, and has contributed backing vocals to the recordings of Lee Ann Womack, Miranda Lambert, and others. Now he’s back with a new record called Onward set to be released on November 1st via One Chord Song/Smith Entertainment. The new record was produced by the award-winning Gary Nicholson, who also helped co-write 10 of the songs, and recorded Onward in his Nashville studio.
The title of the new album is intentional. In 2015, Stoney LaRue was swept up in a domestic dispute situation, even though the alleged victim said the reports were overblown. Nonetheless, the incident wasn’t pretty, and the poor publicity overshadowed the release of his last album of original material called Aviator in 2014. Now Stoney is ready to turn over a new leaf.
“I’m now getting back to being happy,” LaRue says. “I’ve been writing a lot and figuring out what direction I am going in. 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 medicine that didn’t have to be prescribed.”
It’s no accident that the album starts off with the song “Fallin’ and Flyin'” that was written by Gary Nicholson and was first performed by Jeff Bridges on the 2009 film Crazy Heart. “I never meant to hurt no one/I just had to have my way/if there’s such a thing as too much fun/this must be the price you pay,” the song goes.
There is also a duet with the legendary Tanya Tucker, who is experiencing her own resurgence ahead of the release of her new album While I’m Livin’. “It’s about the idea of reciprocity in a relationship, of yin and yang,” LaRue says of the duet entitled “Meet Me In The Middle.” “You want to think that everything’s supposed to be equal and find the balance, but it never turns out that way, does it? It’s always a shift of power.”
Ahead of the new album, Stoney LaRue has released a new song called “Hill Country Boogaloo” which is already doing well on Texas regional radio (listen below). Onward is now available for pre-order.