On his third solo album, the self-produced Papercut—armed with a couple lifetimes of songwriting and touring in his rear view mirror—Carleton Stone gets honest about the toll of devotion to craft while illustrating his mastery of it. Through sax-blasted Americana, power-pop laced with ‘80s synth, and dreamy, sophisticated pop melodies, the Nova Scotia songwriter blurs genres to explore a tumultuous few years and some of the scariest questions someone can ask: “What the hell have I done? What if I’d gone down some other path?”
His new song, “House in the Hills” encapsulates the feeling of accepting that we are enough with what we have in our lives. It feels like the media or internet is always trying to sell us something to help improve our lives or make us feel like we aren’t enough, and Carleton Stone is trying to counterbalance that feeling with this song.
With this song, Carleton really wanted the lyrics and the message of the song to stand out so he kept the production as simple as possible with just enough to help support the story. When the song was written in early 2020, the pandemic wasn’t even a thing that was on most people’s radar at that point. The pandemic only highlighted the feelings in the chorus of this song and reminded us what is truly essential in our lives.
“We wrote this song in the first few days of 2020,” says Carleton. “I remember waking up and checking Instagram and seeing that the U.S. had assassinated a general in Iran and thought ‘Oh wow, this doesn’t seem good,’ and then scrolled down and saw the next piece of news was that Post Malone had got a new face tattoo. I thought the juxtaposition of these two stories encapsulated so much of what is wrong with the ‘click-bait’ world we live in.”