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4.9 out of 5 stars59
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on June 8, 1999
Let me tell everyone out there, this is the best album I've ever listened to. I have always had a distant respect for Mary Chapin Carpenter but was not aware of much of her work. Because I recently used another Carpenter classic 'Grow Old with Me' as the first dance at my wedding, I decided to see her perform within weeks to learn more. What I found was an eye-opening experience. I recall after she played 'Stones in the Road' turning to my new bride and saying "that was a GREAT song". Later she told the story and played 'John Doe #24'. She had everyone captivated by this compassionate masterpiece which had people weeping and speechless. The following day I purchased my first 2 Carpenter albums - 'Come On, Come On' and 'Stones in the Road'. Her performance, and this album are, to borrow the commercial phrase, "priceless". The emotional roller-coaster ride that MCC puts you on will change you as long as you have the depth of character to allow it. If you are into soundbites, political correctness, and special-effect laden superficial movies you probably will not like this album. But for those of you who find the human spirit both joyous and disappointing, and are willing to peel back the layers of protective covering that we surround ourselves with, will not be without reward. 'Stones', 'John Doe 24', 'Where Time Stands Still', 'Jubilee', 'A Keeper for Every Flame'. All are tremendously written and the album is not without fun on 'Shut Up & Kiss Me'. This lady is something special. I beg everyone to get in touch with what it's all about, and this album will take you there ...
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on June 8, 2004
Though many reviewers compare Stones in the Road to her prior album (Come On, Come On), this album was my first exposure to Mary. I first bought it soon after it was released and have had it close to my stereo ever since. As a person who has wandered through artists and genres as the years have gone by I have never once grown tired of this album. I bought it before I met my wife and have now had it through seven years of marriage and two children.
Music means a lot of different things to people, and it means many different things to me personally, and I have come to the conclusion that Stones in the Road is about as perfect a compilation of songs and music as I've found by a modern artist. The music by itself is enchanting, thoughtful, and provides a diversity of emotive and poignant melodies. The lyrics by themselves are powerful poetry, and combined with the music they create songs that are incredibly significant in their simplicity and truthfulness.
This is a record that continues to teach me about life and love the more I listen to it. "Outside Looking In" epitomizes my years of being single and feeling alone and helps remind me of this when I look at others who are there now. "My Pirate Days" tells stories of reconciling youth to adulthood when adulthood doesn't seem to measure up. "Stones in the Road" answers questions about perspective and values. "John Doe No. 24" helps me in a small way to understand the world of my son who has autism. Some may find these songs to be too sentimental or not flashy or upbeat enough, but I strongly believe that there isn't enough music in the world like this that ponders the simple truths in life.
I listen to this music and mourn that there are so few musicians who can reach into their heart and give the world beauty like this. It's a good album to listen to when you're on the porch at dusk in the summer pondering life, when you're getting over a bad fight with your spouse, or when you're feeling like you're not making a difference in the world. Mary knows the human heart. I tend to feel like she's teaching me a thinkg or two when I listen.
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on August 23, 1998
After riding high on the upbeat "Come On Come On" album, Mary Chapin followed that up with "Stones In The Road," a more mellowed out album. There are some upbeat tracks like the toe-tapping "Tender When I Want To Be" and the infectionous "Shut Up And Kiss Me," but this collection of songs contains slow to mid-tempo ballads. And they are the saddest songs I've ever heard. A story about a deaf and blind man who's identity and family were never known is in the song "John Doe No. 24" is a definite tear jerking. "Outside Looking In" is a sad look at harsh reality when dreams of love and marriage don't always come true. "Where Time Stood Still" is a song about reliving the past where happier events took place that seem long, lost, and forgotten. The title track, "Stones In The Road" take a close look at our society and how we take material things and status quo like an obsession. What makes these songs so sad is that they're true. This album gives a harsh look at reality and just goes to prove that she has good observation skills and all in all a great writer.
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on August 22, 2004
I have many excellent cds from all genres in my collection, but this is by far my favorite. Stones in the Road is a wonderful, thoughtful song reminding the listener that each action, each person makes a difference. Jubilee, Shut up and Kiss me and Pirate Days are fun songs I listen to and enjoy, while John Doe #24 is a heart wrenching song that startles me with it's beauty and heartbreak.

MCC has gone on to do at least 3 more cds since this was released (maybe more, I'm tired and not counting)and though they are all outstanding, this is my favorite. On Stones in the Road she mixes uptempo songs with slow, thought provoking and introspective ones, and she does it brilliantly.
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on April 16, 2003
Mary Chapin Carpenter is one of those rare artists who revealed dramatic growth in her choice of subject matter and expanded her musical stylings with each new album. Until this release. Stones In The Road takes a few steps back to the ballad-heavy, acoustic sounds of 1989's State Of The Heart, her breakthrough album.
Lyrically, Carpenter's songs are as richly detailed as ever, if not more so. Be it helping someone overcome an addiction on "Jubilee" or pining for a lost love on "The End Of My Pirate Days," Carpenter makes ample use of metaphors in creating some fine poetry. Especially compelling is "John Doe No. 24," a somewhat biographical tale of a deaf-blind-mute. Branford Marsalis' exquisite sax accompaniment generates a vibe that makes it one of the standout tracks on the album.
The wry social commentaries and humorous novelty numbers (which contributed so strongly to the success of Carpenter's previous album Come On Come On) are in lesser abundance here. The leadoff single "Shut Up And Kiss Me" and the tropical "Tender When I Want To Be" are the only light-hearted songs on the album, while "House Of Cards" - which deals with hidden fears and anxieties - and the gentle, philosophical "Why Walk When You Can Fly" provide the sociological observations.
Carpenter wrote all thirteen songs on Stones On The Road by herself, admirable to be sure. Still, the second half of the album (which is comprised solely of moderately paced songs), cries out for one of her rousing covers, like Gene Vincent's "Right Now" (from Shooting Straight In The Dark) or Lucinda Williams' "Passionate Kisses" (from Come On Come On). Even with the limp finish, Stones In The Road is a very fine album. But after Come On Come On, it was natural to expect more from Mary Chapin Carpenter.
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on December 16, 1999
People who can write and sing and do both in the quality of Mary Chapin Carpenter are few and far between. Every song here was written my Mary-Chapin and she writes every song as if it will someday be a classic. I could tell you all about each song but I don't want to write a book but every song here has something to offer. Not an ounce of filler will be found. If you want a first Mary-Chapin album, get this and "Shooting Straight In The Dark", an equally good album.
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on November 19, 2000
Stones in the Road is by far my all-time favorite album of hers. To prove that I had to replace my first copy of her cd because I managed to scratch two of my favorite tracks on the cd "Outside Looking In" and "Jubilee". In comparison to her previous cds, Stones in the Road is a departure from the optimistic outlook she portrays. Mary took a drastic turn with Stones in the Road by turning it into a darker, bleaker album which I thought she succeeded in doing. "A Keeper for the Flame", "The Last Word", "House of Cards", "Jubilee", "Stones in the Road", and "Outside Looking In" are my very favorite tracks but all the songs on this cd is a winner with me. And as different as Stones in the Road is from her previous cds, this one is just as much of a classic as "State of the Heart".
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on May 27, 2000
I am surprised that this album isn't at all popular. There are so few albums that I know of that I can go through from start to finish without skipping a track in between. Every song here is special - listening to it leaves me completely shaken. All songs have to do with some aspect of the human condition. Whether it is about pain or joy, the one thing common to all of the songs is the honesty and the seriousness underlying it. For all those who are on the lookout for song writers that really express - please know that they seldom can get better than Mary Chapin Carpenter.
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on October 12, 2005
I own nearly 800 CDs, but there are few that I would feel compelled to review. Stones in the Road is an absolute stand-out. It has been part of my collection since it was first released, and it continues to amaze.
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on October 30, 1999
This is what I call truthful and meaningful words and music, and the best thing is that there's no track to skip like many albums you hear, as if it was a best of collection. The title track "Stones in the road" and John Doe#24 can really give you a chilly shiver. The musical arrangement is great and you really feel the depth of the artist. If you're looking for clean words and original music, this album won't let you down.Thank you Mary Chapin Carpenter.
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