Wednesday, 5 October 2011
East Coaster Carleton Stone hit The Big Smoke this past Thursday, promoting the new release of his self-titled (and Hawksley Workman produced, might I add) album at one of Toronto's most wonderfully earthy 'dive bars', The Dakota Tavern. Separating himself from Cape Breton traditionalism, known more for fiddle-fueled folk than country-twang, the genre-pliant collection boasts a mixture of alt-rock-country, plainspoken balladry, and the playfully poppish. The result is eleven tracks of effortlessly blue-collar-and-jeans melodies, and sharp, kicking hooks.
Equipped with the apropos backdrop of the tavern's rusty cowboy-camp, Stone lived up to his reputation for highly charged, personalized performances. Chalk it up to confident stage presence, strong pipes, and solid musicianship (thumbs-up for the pedal steel). Without needing to overload the songs in instrumental cosmetics, the band delivered a reverberating, expansive sound throughout, while Stone exhausted his vocals in such a way that tousled up any minimalist polish.
Favourite picks include 'Strong Medicine', 'Last Thing', and 'Dominoes' - and I also recommend checking out some oldies-but-goodies by the then-named Carleton Stone and the Big Wheel ('Kickdrums' is simply terrific).
Carleton Stone - Last Thing (LIVE)
Photo credit to Mat Dunlap.