The Milk Carton Kids: Monterey
In the last two years, The Milk Carton Kids—Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale—have thrived while logging endless one-night stands and garnering a Best Folk Album Grammy nomination for their national debut, The Ash & Clay. They return with another winning collection driven by their solid acoustic guitars and pristine Everly Brothers-influenced harmonies. The tunes were polished on the road and the performances here show the duo’s growing confidence as songwriters and vocalists, sporting lyrics that are just as musical as the melodies that support them. Pattengale’s lead guitar gives “Getaway,” the story of a young man trying to escape a dysfunctional family, a subtle Tex-Mex feel, but lyrics like, “A rattled chain still rattles loud” remind us that there’s no escape. The gently cynical “Freedom” is a subtle anti-war song asking if freedom is worth fighting and dying for, with Pattengale’s guitar tolling mournfully like a far-off funeral bell. “Poison Tree” is a Latin-flavored ballad with Grady Martin-style guitar fills that add a poignant flavor to a tale of mortality and ecological devastation. Everything here is brimming over with the heart and soul of folk music, and Pattengale’s impressive lead guitar adds its sparkling magic to every tune.