Stoney LaRue and his trademark bandana have been one of the biggest draws in the Texas scene since his 2005 debut, but I never really understood why until I saw him live in 2011. A friend and I went to Floore’s Country Store to see Granger Smith (Pre-Earl Dibbles Jr. fame) open, and we stuck around for Stoney LaRue & The Arsenals because we had nothing better to do and liked “Oklahoma Breakdown.” Turns out they put on a hell of a show, while Granger does better work in the studio.
Stoney’s 2011 release Velvet had a couple of radio-friendly singles (“Velvet” and “Look at Me Fly”), but now that I’ve seen him live on three occasions, I can assure you those are on a different level in person. All of this is to say he finally struck studio gold with his latest track, “First One to Know.”
The arrangement is stripped down and Stoney’s vocal delivery is uncharacteristically understated. What makes the structure especially intriguing is its reliance on tempo changes rather than crescendo to bridge each section. I have to admit it took me a few listens to process this and recognize it as the stroke of genius it is. If you pay attention to the lyrics, this all makes perfect sense.
If I’m not acting like myself lately, doing things that I don’t
Not sure why, but you want to hate me, it’s just a spell I suppose
When I’m back to my old self again, my love
You’ll be the first one to know
The song is a very reflective and honest admission of one’s straying from the path of righteousness. It acknowledges the reality that people change as they get older, but entertains the possibility of turning over a new leaf. That sense of humble confidence pairs well with the soft combination of acoustic guitar, brushed snare, piano, harmonica, and a subtle tambourine. “First One to Know” makes it hard to wait for the full album due at the end of October.
Rating: 4.75 / 5
Watch the video below: