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Stoney LaRue

Aviator – 2014 (eOne)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Stoney LaRue

Oklahoma singer-songwriter Stoney LaRue's latest is a mix of country, rock and pop with touches of jazz and blues. Some songs have an interesting blend of styles, such as the title track, which is a country tune that features jazzy keyboard solos. Similarly "Till I'm Moving On" shifts quickly from mellow country blues to an effectively distorted rocking guitar solo, while the country rocker "Golden Shackles" has a couple of fiddle breaks that recall the Glen Campbell hit "Wichita Lineman."

Several tracks feature nicely odd instrumental effects. The mid-tempo, pop flavored "Blending Colors" incorporates a trippy steel guitar reminiscent of some of Red Rhodes work with Michael Nesmith and the First National band, while the country rocker "Spitfire" and the ballad "Still Running" end on sustained feedback.

Amongst the stronger tunes are "First One To Know," in which LaRue acknowledges aging ("I guess we're all just getting older/Looking back at time over our shoulder"), and the ballad "Dark Side of the Line" in which he expresses fear of that process ("I don't know what it is and I'm not sure what I'll find/Getting older, getting closer to the dark side of the line").

Other highlights are a pair of bonus tracks. Perhaps the best country tune is a cover of the Merle Haggard hit "Natural High," featuring nice harmony vocals from Aubrie Sellers. The set closes with the heavy rocking "Studio A Trouble Time Jam," which has a false fadeout and ends in a cacophony similar to The Beatles' "Helter Skelter."

Produced by Frank Liddell and Mike McCarthy with assistance from Mando Saenz (who co-wrote the 13 original tracks with LaRue) the musicianship is stellar throughout - though the liner notes lack specificity. The steel guitar and keyboard work are particularly impressive with those duties shared by multi-instrumentalists Josh Grange and Jim Hoke. Other notable contributors are Glen Duncan (fiddle, mandolin), Randy Scruggs (acoustic guitar) and Glen Worf (bass). With solid tunes and strong performances, this is an entertaining collection.