The Milk Carton Kids return to their roots
The duo, The Milk Carton Kids, are back at it with their newest impeccable record, The Only Ones. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan continue to make beautifully sounding music while keeping things simplistic. Pattengale and Ryan’s voices blend together making the marvelous harmonies they are known for. This indie-folk seven-track album flies by in less than 30 minutes, sharing compelling narratives with soft soothing acoustic guitar.
The opening song, “I Meant Every Word I Said,” intimately tells the story of someone who has given up on a loved one. The song starts with the powerful lines, “I don’t want to fight anymore/ maybe you were right/ I’m so tired.” While we aren’t told the reasoning for the fallout, we can feel the exhaustion and acceptance of reality the lines and music create. The intricate guitar picking and strumming construct a beautiful melody where sadness can be felt with and without the lyrics. The undertone of quiet peace can be heard and felt from beginning to end, underlined by the elegantly blended harmonies.
Pattengale and Ryan’s musical storytelling is stupendous. Their technique of telling another person’s story allows them to showcase a wide cast of characters through the voices of their own. We see this in the track, “My Name is Ana,” where The Milk Carton Kids speak from the perspective of an immigrant whose name is Ana. The song begins with a few quick strums with palm mutes and is spiced up a bar later with some complex fingerpicking. The harmonies join in and begin to sing, “My name is Ana.” The story is then told about Ana’s life, which consists of living i21n the attic with her family. We can infer by the lines, “I can see the neon lights/ and the masked men/ and the riot lines/ I can read the warning signs,” that this story is about the immigrant and deportation crisis. The combination of harmonies and guitar create an emotionally intimate song, bringing awareness to the border crisis existing in our society today.
The Milk Carton Kids’ unique sound and contemporary songcraft have allowed them to rapidly rise up in the American Folk tradition. The Only Ones album brings them back to their roots of a neo-tradition folk genre, crafting the rich and accessible music that emits an intimate fireplace radiance.