Album Review: Stoney LaRue "Velvet"

On the TV show "Seinfeld," George Costanza mentions his desire to "drape" himself in velvet if it ever becomes socially acceptable. Well, George's mother can safely get out the cutting shears because Stoney LaRue has created a musical masterpiece with "Velvet" that will make you want to wrap a bolt of velvet around you and never let go.
It's been six, long years since Stoney LaRue offered up his last studio album, but the famed Red Dirt star has been a road warrior with more than 250 dates a year after his successful "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" album helped him forge a road-worthy band.

Now, after three years of hard work, the new album "Velvet" begins with "Dresses." No, Stoney LaRue hasn't gone soft or started a garment-making sweat shop. "Dresses is an atmospheric, Texas country cut that includes elements of folk and Americana. The bluesy "Wiregrass" showcases LaRue's stellar vocals, and the artist has never sounded better. "Sharecropper" has much of the same charm.

However, Red Dirt fans will feel more comfortable with the Texas music cut "Look At Me Fly," which is a sure bet to be another Number One hit for Stoney LaRue. Written by LaRue and Mando Saenz, the song is one of the most satisfying country tracks of the 2010s. It must be noted that "Look At Me Fly" has mainstream country chart potential, and Stoney LaRue may have a break-out song here.

The quiet "Travelin' Kind" has a terrifically memorable chorus, and the breezy Texas music track will please long-time fans. However, the radio ready cuts continue with "Sirens," which offers superb instrumentation from the band and confident vocals from LaRue.

"Has Been" is a thought-provoking song offering intelligent lyrics and a carefully nuanced vocal performance reminiscent of a sound that can be best described as Garth Brooks meets Brandon Rhyder. Traditional country music gets a boost with "Way Too Long." Once again, this song could find mainstream country chart success. The title track "Velvet" is the current single, and the love song ends the album on a perfectly positive note.

The 10 songs on "Velvet" have been carefully chosen - probably from dozens and dozens written for the album, and the skill of choosing the right songs has played a serious role in the success of this project which was three years in the making. Indeed, two or three songs on the project could land Stoney LaRue on the big stage of mainstream country music. But longtime fans can be sure he won't forget his roots. Indeed, an album this good may take Stoney LaRue from steer riding ropes to inside the velvet ropes of Nashville.

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