The Milk Carton Kids: The Sweet Spot

With "There By Your Side," The Milk Carton Kids'  members make feel-better music — and who doesn't want to feel better? i i

With "There By Your Side," The Milk Carton Kids' members make feel-better music — and who doesn't want to feel better? Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist
With "There By Your Side," The Milk Carton Kids'  members make feel-better music — and who doesn't want to feel better?

With "There By Your Side," The Milk Carton Kids' members make feel-better music — and who doesn't want to feel better?

Courtesy of the artist

Friday's Pick

Song: "There By Your Side"

Artist: The Milk Carton Kids

CD: Prologue

Genre: Folk-Pop

Since the dawn of pop music, the marketplace has been strewn with folk-inspired duos whose sweet harmonies coat listeners' nerves like calamine lotion. The arrival of a good new one may not seem like earth-shattering news — "Hey, everybody! Two kind-natured guys are singing pretty songs while brandishing acoustic guitars!" — but a lovely, soothing headache remedy is cause for celebration if you were the one nursing the headache.

The Milk Carton Kids' Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale have just released a sweet-and-easy summer stroll of an album in Prologue, suitable for sticky nights at the kitchen table or head-clearing drives in the country. From start to finish, it's a worthy peer to the best work of The Jayhawks or Chris and Thomas — or any gentle outfit that blends two male voices in a manner engineered to maximize listener comfort. (It doesn't hurt that Prologue is available for free download in its entirety on the duo's website.)

"There By Your Side" hits all the signposts of a gorgeous contemporary folk ballad — regret, devotion, longing, and the delicate interweaving of voices and acoustic guitars. But it would sound just as contemporary in any recent era: amid Simon & Garfunkel ballads, on college radio in the '90s alongside The Cages and The Williams Brothers, or right now, when agreeable beardedness has morphed into a genre unto itself in the Pacific Northwest. Ryan and Pattengale don't belong to that genre themselves, but they do float winningly alongside it. Theirs is feel-better music, and who doesn't want to feel better?

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