Runs Apr.28-May 2
Carleton Stone is a charismatic performer and soulful songwriter hailing from Cape Breton.
From his time leading the band Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel and their album release in 2009, to his first solo self-titled album released in 2011, Stone’s musical career has taken a variety of twists and turns in recent years. Songwriting in particular has become one of his main focuses.
So when it came time to start working on his own solo album, Stone said he really had to think about what he wanted it to be — in the end selecting songs that really spoke to him from a catalogue of material he’s written over the last three years.
Carleton Stone’s latest album Draws Blood (GroundSwell Music) finds the 28-year-old songwriter delivering his most personal artistic statement to date. Co-produced by Howie Beck (Feist, Hannah Georgas, Hayden) and Jason Collett (acclaimed singer/songwriter and member of Broken Social Scene), the album radiates with vibrant life.
Dodging between the hushed tones of “Blood is Thicker Than Water,” the Low-era Bowie inspired “Climbing Up The Walls,” and the graceful pop of “Signs of Life,” Draws Blood’s three song opening introduces a vast sonic pallet that continues throughout the album. Influences and inflections are meticulously pieced together to carry the emotional weight of each track.
The album is dedicated to Stone’s mentor and close friend, Jay Smith. A veteran musician in Nova Scotia, Smith was a trusted confidante and Stone’s first-ever co-writing partner. He passed away mere weeks before Stone was to enter the studio to record the album.
Paying heartfelt tribute to his longtime friend, Stone summarized the album’s theme by saying, “Draws Blood is about what we lose in life and the way we hold ourselves as we carry this pain forward, still trying to find the joy that makes every day worth living.”
The loss, the healing, and the clear-eyed, dogged pursuit of a life well lived are present throughout Draws Blood.
A desire to address these weighty and relatable experiences is at the core of Stone’s strength as an artist. He excels at tapping into an ideal balance between that lyrical gravity and a love of melody. An unabashed pop music fan, Stone says his tenure co-writing at the Gordie Sampson Songwriting Camp has been an eye-opening experience that allowed him to mature as a composer.
Teaming with songwriting vets like Sampson, Beck, Collett, and, previously, Hawksley Workman (the Juno Award-winning musician who produced Stone’s 2011 self-titled album) has fine-tuned Stone’s understanding for how to pick the right songs for an album. He says his ultimate goal is to pick the ones that impress him more than others.
After all, he concedes, the older you get and the more you write, “the harder it gets for your own work to impress you.”