Album Review: The Ash & Clay by The Milk Carton Kids
Great, Based on 4 Critics
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When you see The Milk Carton Kids live, you quickly realize how harmony is crucial to the performance. There is a simplicity present in their vocals that is incredibly complex. And when combined with Kenneth Pattengale’s signature, intricate guitar picking and Joey Ryan’s humor and rhythm, the audience is left both heartbroken and healed. The Ash & Clay takes this live approach and translates it into the duo’s most collaborative and folk-driven record yet.
The sound of two voices and two guitars in harmony has been a cornerstone of American music since the beginning, from the Blue Sky Boys through to the Everly Brothers and Gillian Welch & David Rawlings. That the music of the Milk Carton Kids contains echoes of all of these artists is a testament to the depth of talent that Joey Ryan and Ken Pattengale possess. The Ash & Clay is the first major-label release for the California duo and its quiet power is startling in this age of studio excess.
The Milk Carton Kids came together by chance when two years ago, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan reached a fork in the road in terms of their respective solo careers. With little tangible success to show for their efforts, outside of respect, admiration, and support from peers and L.A. club bookers, the two decided to throw in their lot together as a duo, and began performing in venues in and around the West Coast.
Ash & Clay, the second studio album from Los Angeles-based acoustic duo the Milk Carton Kids, offers up 12 no-frill slabs of vintage Greenwich Village-inspired folk that blend the close harmony singing of Simon & Garfunkel with the technical acumen of the Punch Brothers. A live staple at L. A.