Stoney LaRue “Velvet” (B Side Music Group)
Warm, smooth and surprisingly mellow, red dirt standout Stoney LaRue’s long-awaited second studio album fulfills the promise of its sumptuous title, “Velvet.”
The follow-up to the Edmond resident’s debut studio effort, 2005′s “The Red Dirt Album,” “Velvet” showcases a more mature, finely crafted sound that still maintains its rootsy authenticity. Seasoned producers Frank Liddell, who has helmed projects by Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and Lee Ann Womack, and Mike McCarthy, who has worked with Patti Griffin and Spoon, know just how to help LaRue polish his sound, including his intuitive vocals, without sanding the red dirt spirit out of it.
In addition, Liddell paired LaRue with Nashville, Tenn.-based singer-songwriter Mando Saenz, and they co-wrote nine of the album’s 10 tracks together. Their musical kinship becomes apparent in “Velvet’s” intriguing, finely woven songcraft.
The album opens and closes with a pair of equally wistful but sonically divergent ballads, both featuring eerily beautiful backing vocals from Sarah Buxton and Aubrie Sellers. “Dresses” unfolds “Velvet” with a gypsy-soul tale of heartbreak, while the title track closes the curtain with a lush, romantic slow dance.
In between, LaRue stretches his sound in all kinds of interesting directions, from the swampy blues of “Wiregrass” and “Sharecropper” to the Tex-Mex ardor of “Te Amo Mas Que La Vida” to the folksy musings of “Travelin’ Kind,” which includes Womack’s liltingly lovely harmonies.
But LaRue’s diehard red dirt devotees will be pleased to know that he is still cut from sturdy country-rock cloth, as evidenced by the album’s highlights, the experimental foot-stomper “Sirens” and the optimistic anthem “Look at Me Fly.”
While downloading is ridiculously convenient, it’s worth the extra effort to buy an actual physical copy of this CD, since LaRue has wrapped his rich new music in fuzzy red faux velvet.
LaRue will play at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at T Bones Place in Tahlequah. For more information, go to http://tbonesplace.com.