Stoney LaRue is a singer/songwriter based in Stillwater, OK, one of the leaders of a local outlaw country scene collectively dubbed Red Dirt, after the dominant topographical feature of central Oklahoma. LaRue's debut, The Red Dirt Album, is both a personal coming-out of a fairly gifted singer/songwriter and the mission statement of an entire collective of bands, including Cross Canadian Ragweed (led by singer/songwriter Cody Canada) and Jason Boland & the Stragglers, key figures from which appear here in vocal, instrumental, and songwriting roles. It's as if the Elephant 6 bands had been heavily influenced by Jerry Jeff Walker's Viva Terlingua and the rest of the Luckenbach, TX, scene of the '70s. However, LaRue's whiskey-smooth growl of a voice and his smart, traditionalist songwriting are the focal points throughout The Red Dirt Album, a twangy, rock-influenced collection of solid two-steps, ballads, and rockers. LaRue wrote or co-wrote all but two of the songs, the ringers being a sensitive reading of "Bluebird Wine," a Rodney Crowell tune popularized by Emmylou Harris, and a triumphant, sweet version of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" that closes the album. Both sound like they could be originals, testament both to LaRue's vocal skills and strength as a songwriter.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason