Two singer/guitarists from Eagle Rock, California, Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan, who after struggling with their individual solo careers joined up to form The Milk Carton Kids in 2011; and success followed. This flat-picking harmonious pair with voices that match the guitars have created a sound that picks from traditional American folk and letting the sound re-emerge as a contemporary sound that has been recognized with Grammy nomination. Monterey is their fourth album and following the tradition set in two of their previous albums Prologue and The Ash and Clay the prologue is written by Joe Henry a singer-songwriter and producer.
The opening number is an evocative, picture painting guitar number before the vocals join the guitar in Ashville Skies, this is a melodic tuneful number that develops a story and full of modern American folk that is calming and draws you in to listen to every note and word as The Milk Carton Kids work their musical magic. The title track Monterey, has a feeling of nostalgia and the guitar has a classical form and the voices work with the guitar so that the words are like a shadow working well keeping the listener’s interest and attention with its yearning for Monterey. Secret From The Stars in a higher octave and quicker beat this gets the musical juices flowing it has a Spanish guitar feel that flows and rolls with the melody of the lyrics.; this approach is also seen on High Hopes.
The Milk Carton Kids use many musical styles and textures creating a shape for every track some slow and almost with a jazz beat on Deadly Bells whilst throughout the vocals are firmly rooted in American folk making for interesting musical shapes and sounds that always sit easy on the ear. Closing the album with Poison Tree we have a folk number that is simple the guitar work stylish and precise and the voices curl around the lyrics like steam in the air and is a perfect ending to a considered and accomplished third album.
This is an album that celebrates the perfect harmonization of two voices with the guitar adding texture & tone and acts as punctuation marks throughout the album that is perfectly balanced contemporary folk that is not afraid to have its own style shape and tonal quality. Monterey as an album has distilled simplicity so that there is an elixir of folk suited for the here and now without losing its footsteps in the heritage of acoustic music of the past; a third album from this talented duo that will charm and delight fans and introduce many to the delight that is The Milk Carton Kids.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD NINE doodle paws out of TEN ….
1. Ashville Skies
4. Secrets Of The Stars
6. High Hopes
7. Deadly Bells
8. Shooting Shadows
9. City Of Our Lady
10. Sing, Sparrow, Sing
11. Poison Tree