Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Carleton Stone: “Draws Blood” (2014) CD Review

Canadian songwriter Carleton Stone’s newest album, Draws Blood, features all original material. Carleton Stone finds inspiration and expression in several different musical genres, including pop, folk, country and rock. He seems to let each song’s content and meaning determine the genre and sound, which is great. He also definitely seems influenced by a lot of 1970s music. “Signs Of Life,” for example, reminds me a bit of Jackson Browne.

“Blood Is Thicker Than Water,” the album’s opening track, has kind of a cool 1970s groove. Carleton Stone then mixes that with a sort of sweet, easy country feel, and the result is a delightful and catchy tune. But really it’s his vocals that drive the song. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Take a picture of your mother/Bury it in the yard/Just a delicate reminder/That she took it pretty hard.” And then halfway through, there is the surprising addition of horns.

There’s a certain 1970s influence heard on “Climbing Up The Walls” as well. It’s in the music, if not the vocals (think early Police, with a touch of Bowie). This one is more of an interesting rock tune, especially in the chorus, whose sound really fits the lyric of climbing up the walls – there is a bit of anxiety and contained craziness in the sound. It’s truly effective, and is part of what makes this track one of the CD’s highlights.

I love the way “Love Into The Light” begins, sneaking up, then bursting open like a flower suddenly blooming. This song has kind of an easy groove with some nice backing vocals. I love the feel of this one, and it features some good lyrics, like this line: “It only hurts you on the way out.” And the presence of horns helps make this track my personal favorite.

Carleton Stone dips more into the folk realm with “When You Come Home,” a pretty, late-night acoustic gem. In this one he sings, “And I know you’ll find just what you’re looking for/When you come back home.” Sweet, right? And then he ends the song with these lines: “There’ll be open arms waiting/When you come home/There’ll be open arms waiting/Come home.” This is another favorite of mine.

“What I Want” is unabashed pop with electronic dance elements. I like it once it gets going, but it’s initially a bit jarring coming as it does right after the sweet acoustic tune. I might have positioned this one differently on the disc.

"Draws Blood," the CD's title track, begins with an interesting combination of electronic and acoustic sounds. This is a powerful song, looking back at things that affect us still, things we wish we could have done differently, things we could have averted. "Would've sat a little longer on top of that hill/Held you there 'til I had my fill/Wouldn't have laughed so hard or ran so fast/If I knew how long this pain would last."

"The Darkness" really grabs me once it kicks in. It’s simple, but effective, and takes on a power and beauty that is surprising.

CD Track List

  1. Blood Is Thicker Than Water
  2. Climbing Up The Walls
  3. Signs Of Life
  4. Love Into The Light
  5. When You Come Home
  6. What I Want
  7. Draws Blood
  8. The Darkness
  9. Like A Knife
  10. Pick Me Up, Dust Me Off

Draws Blood was released on March 4, 2014 through GroundSwell Music.

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