Americana folk band The Milk Carton Kids have returned with their fourth album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do – an epic (both in title and sound) 12 track record that’s equal parts melancholy and charming.
Opening with ‘Just Look At Us Now’, the Grammy Award nominated duo start slow and warming, with soft acoustic guitars and heartfelt lyrics soothing listeners’ ears, before segueing into the evocative and nostalgic ‘Nothing is Real’.
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale’s simple cords and laidback country crooning are displayed perfectly in ‘Younger Years’, ‘Blindness’ and ‘You Break My Heart’, whilst ‘One More For The Road’, a colossal 10 minute 23 second long centrepiece, demonstrates the duo’s sublime synchronicity and harmonic vocals.
This is the band at its most diverse, building on the acoustic foundations they’re known for and adding more subtle layers to their music. It’s still sombre, bittersweet stuff – which can border on a little too meditative if you’re listening to the album in one sitting – but the instrumentation adds greater depth to the album as a whole.
The Milk Carton Kids have undergone some major changes – both musical and personal – since their last release in 2015, Monterey, and this album reflects those events. In Kenneth Pattengale’s own words: “We had been going around the country yet another time to do the duo show, going to the places we’d been before. There arose some sort of need for change.”
Change, as we all know, can be a liberating thing and it certainly was for The Milk Carton Kids, who’ve delivered a reflective album with a “bigger sonic palette”, asserting themselves as one of the most accomplished Americana bands on the contemporary folk scene.