Country Music Video Roundup: Bowen, First Aid Kit, LaRue & Paslay

Wade Bowen – “When I Woke Up Today”

One of the many solid songs from Wade Bowen’s new, great self-titled album. Bowen’s music videos always do a great job of telling a story for the song and this one is no different.

Click here to read review of Wade Bowen’s self-titled album. 

First Aid Kit – “America” (Cover)

Is there anything this Swedish duo can’t sing? This is a cover of Paul Simon’s iconic “America” and of course they hit a home run with it. Just like Bowen, these two always do a great job with their music videos too. If you haven’t listened to their album Stay Gold released back in June (a candidate for Country Perspective’s Best Country Album of 2014), go listen to it as soon as possible.

Click here to read review of First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold album. 

Stoney LaRue – “Aviator” 

The Texas Country/Red Dirt artist has landed on a major label for his new album and has received high praise from country music critics, including Country Perspective’s own Derek Hudgin in his review of the album. Here’s the album’s title track from LaRue’s great new album.

Click here to read review of Stoney LaRue’s Aviator album. 

Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” (Acoustic Performance & Interview)

I gave Eric Paslay’s self-titled debut album a solid grade and he blew me away even more when I saw him perform in person. And the video below enforces once again why I consider Paslay one of the better artists in mainstream country music. He talks about how the song came about and the effect it has on crowds when he plays it. This will be one of my candidates for Country Perspective’s Best Country Song of 2014.

 

Click here to read review of Eric Paslay’s self-titled album. 

 

If there are any other recent music videos from country artists you recommend checking out, be sure to link them in the comments below. 

Album Review – Stoney LaRue’s Aviator

Born in Texas, bred in Oklahoma, Stoney LaRue grew up in the heart of Red Dirt country music. It’s no surprise that the organic honesty embodied by this music scene is one that LaRue has worked on building and perfecting for years. All that work and effort put into live shows and two previous studio projects has paid off in Stoney LaRue’s newest studio album, Aviator. Always doing it his way, Stoney LaRue sticks with his core producers Frank Liddell and Mike McCarthy to bring Aviator to life. Team LaRue recorded these songs in one take live in the studio, recorded on two-inch tape. No fancy production tricks, just simple, raw, pure instrumentation captured live.  Also, Stoney LaRue has Aubrie Sellers and Mando Saenz providing great backing vocals and harmonies on the album.  (Thanks to Stoney himself for letting me know this tidbit via twitter!) Content wise, Stoney LaRue taps into a lot of personal issues and drastic life changes for his songwriting. But the results aren’t moody, heartbreak songs, but rather messages of self-rediscovery and overcoming the obstacles of life’s trials.

“One and Only” starts off with a gentle acoustic strum, but the instrumentation builds throughout the song, offering up instrumental breaks of fiddles and steel guitars. The song serves as a nice introduction for Aviator, and discusses a looming, hidden danger. This enticing temptation is essentially like chasing an empty dream. It’s meant to bring you down with no happily ever after. Following this is the more upbeat “Golden Shackles.” Here LaRue describes himself a monster of man, standing tall, strong and proud. Yet, as the famous saying goes, pride comes before the fall. But LaRue recognizes his fall and realizes that there’s a lesson to be learned with this setback. For my money, “Golden Shackles” is on the top-tier of this album in terms of songwriting.

“Til I’m Moving On” is one of the many songs where LaRue sets a scene of wandering lost, directionless in life. But in this more subdued track, music is the short-term remedy to the broken-hearted, offering an escape from reality. Next up is the title track, which you may remember made my top ten list from October. This is another song written about wandering lost and reminiscing about the innocence of youth while in the midst of a broken heart. “Aviator” is about putting on a mask to hide these lost feelings.  The instrumentation build along with the lyrics and LaRue’s delivery present a fantastic display for this song.

Stoney LaRue starts to explore failing relationships in the next few tracks. “First One To Know” is another album standout. This song is about the self-awareness of the man. He knows he’s in a rut and not the same guy she fell in love with, and once he figures out how to change back, she’ll be the first to know. Next up is “Blending Colors.” This song has the feel of a more traditional country heartbreak song, with LaRue singing about wanting to show her his sorrow. He’s desperate for her attention and wants her to notice him again. “Spitfire” has more rock influence in the song’s instrumentation than the rest of the album, and rightfully so. This details a final argument; the last biting words that she said to open his eyes to his wrong ways. She didn’t waste any words spitting that fire to him.

Next up is another standout track, “Still Runnin’.” This song is a bit more redemptive with the realization that everything else in life is still the same and still running even though his heart is broken. This song has great piano and steel guitar instrumentation with some excellent harmonies here. In “A Little Too Long” Stoney LaRue sings about a woman who grows tired. She’s tired of waiting for him, tired of giving him second chances. She’s ready to move on because she’s been waiting just a little too long.

“Too Soon” is an upbeat country jam about not giving up on what you’ve started just yet. The instrumentation here is nice, but the lyrics are rather repetitive. “Million Dollar Blues” is another song about broken hearts while battling pride. This heartbreak came from losing his love and feeling empty while chasing dreams. “I paid the price I’ll never know walking them lonely streets of gold with million dollar blues.” The album caps off with a second song I featured on my top ten, “Dark Side of the Line.” This is a song of acceptance that life isn’t forever, and every day we move closer to the inevitable end. The long journey of wandering lost and searching for anything worthy in life is becoming weary.

Overall, this album is loaded with great instrumentation and vocals within every track. Aviator is a musical definition for “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” There may be songs or instances within songs that can nit-picked for doing or not doing something. But this album is meant to be enjoyed by pushing play at “One and Only” and letting it spin from there. This is an album in the true sense of the word.  Each song adds to the story and theme as Aviator progresses.  And if you find the deluxe edition, you’ll be treated to two wonderful bonus tracks: “Natural High (For Merle Haggard)” and “Studio A Trouble Time Jam” which features Stoney and the band rocking out at Nashville’s historic recording studio. Stoney LaRue earns himself a well deserved place along side Red Dirt’s best artists. Aviator is a statement album that speaks loud and clear.

Grade: 9.5/10

Derek’s Top Ten Country Songs from October 2014

 

Even with all the releases this month, October was looking rather bleak in terms of finding some good country songs released this month. Way too many pop/rock/hip hop/not country albums were released to the mainstream, and I was nervous that I’d have a weak top ten list this month. Luckily, at the 11th hour two gentlemen from Texas/Red Dirt Radio, Wade Bowen and Stoney Larue, released stellar albums in late October with songs that account for six of my top ten.

My favorite song from the month is Wade Bowen’s “Long Enough to Be a Memory.” There’s light production behind Wade’s longing, reminiscent voice in a song about his journey. It’s a great song with some great personal insight and wonder about choices. Second we have Angaleena Presley’s “Surrender” from her debut album, American Middle Class. This isn’t a light, feel good song at all. This song hits you like a brick, but Presley does an amazing job building the story with the lyrics and her voice and breaks your heart in the last line. Third is Wade Bowen again with “Watch Her Drive.” This six and half-minute saga is about a night he spends with the most intriguing girl he’s ever met. She’s so interesting that he wants to be with her and watch her drive wherever they go for the night. The story is captivating and doesn’t feel long or drawn out over the long runtime. Mickey Guyton is new on the scene, but “Better Than You Left Me” is an impressive single. She has a powerful voice and is one to keep an eye on. That song sits at number four for me this month. And rounding out the top five is Stoney Larue’s “Aviator.” It’s a song about wandering lost in life but putting on a face of confidence hidden behind sunglasses. The production builds behind the song, and Stoney’s voice is great on this one.

Angaleena’s “Better Off Red” sits at number six. A powerful story about following her dreams and the internal pain and conflict she feels about leaving home to do so. Texas dominates seven, eight, and nine on this list. Bowen’s introspective song of rambling ways, “West Texas Rain,” and his love ballad “Sweet Leona” are other standouts from his self titled album. Stoney Larue’s “Dark Side of the Line” is great acoustic song about growing older and recognizing that life isn’t forever. Angaleena Presley’s “Dry Country Blues” caps off the ten. This is great song about a town hit hard by the economy and how the citizens make ends meet no matter what; it’s small town commentary at its finest. My honorable mentions this month are every other song from Presley’s, Bowen’s and Larue’s albums. Wade Bowen’s self-titled album and Stoney Larue’s Aviator are great additions to their respective catalogs of top-notch country albums, and Angaleena Presley jumped onto the scene with an impressive debut.