The Milk Carton Kids – I Only See the Moon
Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan (The Milk Carton Kids) may have just released their best work yet, as I Only See the Moon features the most breathtaking guitar and vocal melodies these L.A. brothers have ever recorded. And that’s saying a lot. When this acoustic guitar virtuoso duo burst onto the scene in 2011 with Prologue (featuring “Michigan,” which you must hear if you haven’t), minds were blown.
Well, as Samuel L. Jackson says in “Jurassic Park,” “Hold onto your butts.” This album is so good you might just spontaneously combust.
Produced and engineered by Pattengale and recorded at Heritage Recording Co., Far Cry and Silent Zoo (all California studios), I Only See the Moon starts off simply, with “All the Time in the World to Kill,” a pleasant song with gorgeous background harmonies and a catchy melody that can stay with you all day long. It hypnotizes you, bringing you into Milk Carton Kid trance. And – once they have you – they don’t let you go.
Following this track, the Kids go into “Star Shine,” one of their best songs to date. It’s a sad, honest tune reflecting on a doomed relationship, but the intricate, mellifluous guitarwork and harmonies that rival Simon and Garfunkel make it the most beautiful song I’ve heard all year.
And “Wheels and Levers” is right there with it. The Kids sound more like Rufus Wainwright, with harmonies reminiscent of “Once” stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. And that’s just the vocals. Pattengale’s guitar solo here reminds me of Gillian Welch’s counterpart Dave Rawlings, a high, high compliment.
The Milk Carton Kids are by no means one-trick ponies. The title track takes a dramatic leap back in time, sounding more like a song from the crooner era. Sinatra could have covered it if it was out there back then. I can almost hear it. It’s a phenomenal vocal performance by Pattengale, who also arranged and orchestrated the captivating strings with Paul Cartwright.
“Running on Sweet Smile” is vintage Milk Carton Kids, with silky smooth harmonies throughout, and guitars blending like they’re lost without each other. It’s masterful and mellow, setting you at ease while also making you think, “Wow, are they really that good? Yes. They are.”
“One True Love” follows, capturing the more traditional side of the duo. It sounds like it belongs on the Cold Mountain soundtrack. “Body & Soul” keeps it traditional but features the Milk Carton Kids just having fun. It’s a boot-stompin, fast-paced, funny Appalachian crowd-pleaser. Pattengale and Ryan’s personalities come out more here. If you get a chance to see them live you’ll know what I mean. These guys are hilarious.
“North Country Ride” is again up there with “Star Shine.” What can I say about this song that I haven’t said already? The only thing that comes to mind is “heavenly.” It’s a case and point of why these two belong together as musical partners. The chemistry is undeniable, and it just keeps getting better.
Highlights include “Star Shine,” “Wheels and Levers,” “Running On Sweet Smile,” “North Country Ride.”
I Only See the Moon is available to stream everywhere on May 19. To purchase the album, and for tour dates, go to https://www.themilkcartonkids.com.