There are some albums that sound timeless from the get-go. That you could see playing for your kids on vinyl, pulling a slightly scratched record out of a dusty case. Albums that can stand changing tastes and evolving genres. Albums that grow with you, instead of wearing on you with repeated listens.
That’s how I feel about The Ash & Clay, the third album from California folk duo The Milk Carton Kids (out March 26). With an achingly poignant collection of modern folk music, Kenneth Pattangale and Joey Ryan prove that there is very much still a place for delicate, beautiful songs in today’s musical landscape.
The duo, both skilled singers and guitarists, twine their delicate guitar pickings together in a layered, intricate tapestry of sound; their voices, melded in harmony, add sonic depth and poetry to each track.
This can be lighthearted, as in the countrified “Honey, Honey,” in which they saucily promise, “Trouble comes to everyone who dares to be a muse;” or heart-wrenching, like the truly gorgeous “Promised Land,” which, in one of the more poetic break-up promises ever, declares, “And if you left, leave my heart to spare/We could part but I’d still find you there.”
Still, there’s a glowing light of hope through all of the longing in The Ash & Clay, a hope for meaning, for love, for a sense of home. As the two sing in the title track, “Let’s come home before the girls are grown, let’s come home tonight.”
It’s impossible to listen Pattangale and Ryan play together without thinking of Simon & Garfunkel — the comparison is both an apt description of their sound and a compliment to the Kids’ incredible musical chemistry. Let’s hope they keep making their beautiful music for as many years to come.