There’s very little twang or two-stepping in Carpenter’s music. You’ll find those types of songs occasionally, in songs like “Down at the Twist and Shout,” but what has always made Carpenter exceptional is her ability to convey deep passion and emotion through an entire album.
Carpenter then leads into “House of Cards,” a track about the need to move forward and share our pasts with someone else. And she doesn’t hesitate to throw in some up-tempo twang into the mix on “Tender When I Want to Be” and “Shut Up and Kiss Me.”
Track by track, Carpenter tells a different story with every song. Of particular note is “Jubilee,” where the narrator encourages the need to leave the troubles of our pasts behind us and allow ourselves to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes and rejoice in the friendships and family that we have.
But perhaps the best and most memorable track of the entire collection is the title track. The song is a lament, chronicling the easiness of life as children growing up into adults working to get what we want, no matter what and questioning the wisdom in this type of behavior and its effect on others. Carpenter does not mince words in her criticism:
“The starving children have been replaced by souls out on the street
We give a dollar when we pass and hope our eyes don’t meet
We pencil in we cancel out we crave the corner suite
We kiss your ass we make you hold we doctor the receipt
And the stones in the road fly out from beneath our wheels
Another day another deal before we get back home
The stones in the road leave a mark whence they came
A thousand points of light or shame
Baby, I don’t know”
This was back when mainstream country music still had something to say. There’s almost no current female country vocalist who can hold a candle to Carpenter, with the exception of possibly Trisha Yearwood, who is cast aside as a relic by country radio much in the same way as Carpenter.
Stones in the Road is one of those perfect country albums from the 90s which is essential to any country collection.