The Milk Carton Kids, The Ash & Clay

Jim Farber

By Jim Farber

on 03.26.13 in Reviews

The Ash & Clay

The Milk Carton Kids

You can’t get far into writing a review of The Milk Carton Kids without mentioning Simon & Garfunkel. (I managed to make it just 14 words). Like S&G, they’re an acoustic duo that sings pristine ballads in tightly entwined voices of velvet and lace. But so facile a comparison sells these “Kids” short: Kenneth Pettengale and Joey Ryan have delicate, distinctive timbres, and the lyrics on this California duo’s second studio CD aren’t nearly as effete as they first seem. “Snake Eyes” deals with death, “Years Gone By” alienation, and both the title track and the closing one (“Memphis”) mourn a vanishing America. In the latter, they contrast Paul Simon’s view of that town. He sees it as a shrine; they view it as a mausoleum. The difference gives them extra distinction, as does the wandering melody, which has its own quavering beauty.