fri 01/03/2024

Album: The Milk Carton Kids - I Only See the Moon | reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Milk Carton Kids - I Only See the Moon

Album: The Milk Carton Kids - I Only See the Moon

Honest, heartfelt sequence that keeps on giving

Full cream from The Milk Carton Kids

Life is better together, and the beauteous sounds created by The Milk Carton Kids proves it. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan got their acts together in 2011, having each pursued solo careers that never quite gelled. Ryan pitched up at a Pattengale gig in Eagle Rock, California, which was home for both of them.

They recorded their first album live at Zoey’s Café in Ventura a few months later and would soon be featured in the all-star line-up for Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis. Now comes their sixth studio album, their first since The Only Ones, a short outing released just before the world stopped turning.

It's worth the wait: simple, honest, heartfelt; the beautiful vocal harmonies and skilful instrumental work immediately making you feel you’re in the company of old friends. Pattengale’s the fingerpicker, teasing elegant riffs and fills, intros and outros from the six strings of his beloved Martin parlour guitar, with its distinctive dark mahogany tones. Ryan’s Gibson, and sometimes his banjo, provides the rhythm. You sense them standing close around one mic, clad in their preppyish sport coats and, often, ties, serious about what they do but trading lots of banter.

I Only See the Moon was recorded in the duo’s new studio space in Los Angeles, Pattengale producing (in the past they’ve worked with Joe Henry), an arrangement that allowed them “all the time in the world”, as the opening track of the new album puts it. Happily, the lengthy gestation period hasn’t resulted in an over-produced clean and antiseptic album – rather there’s a very live feel to it, right from the opening sounds of fingers knocking against guitars, to the occasional not-quite-perfect togetherness and counting-in. Close enough for folk music!

The dreamy, slightly mournful title track features a gorgeous string arrangement, and its lack of any final harmonic resolution makes it feel almost like an art song, the polar opposite of the banjo-driven “One True Love” which seems to echo down the years. “North Country Ride”, written in memory of a beloved family member, is a song of poignant simplicity, oscillating between major and minor with a hint of tasteful backing vocals behind the Kids’ own close harmonies. “Will You Remember Me”, a gentle, wistful love song in three-quarter time, closes an album that will keep on giving.

You feel you’re in the company of old friends


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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