The Ash & Clay, by the Milk Carton Kids

Most Americana duos don’t sound as much like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings as people say they do. But the Milk Carton Kids’ resemblance is uncanny, from the close harmony to the just-guitars sound to the way flatpicker Kenneth Pattengale plays the hell out of a vintage instrument.

As songwriters, Pattengale and Joey Ryan are a click more traditionalist than most of their peers; the word folk only needs qualifiers here and there. But there’s nothing primitive about the way they sing together: it’s as tight and as polished as the Everly Brothers. Their second album isn’t much of a departure from the first; they’ve pretty much got this formula down pat. What a great formula.


Steve Thorngate

The Century managing editor is also a church musician and songwriter.

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