After continuing with their minimalist sound on 2015’s Monterey, the Milk Carton Kids went after something more expansive on All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn’t Do — whose “I’ve Been Loving You” is premiering exclusively below.
The California indie folk duo’s Kenneth Pattengale tells Billboard that Monterey gave him and partner Joey Ryan “the latitude to come after the heart of a song through production and through arrangement that wasn’t pre-determined.” That means a somewhat looser approach as the two brought the material in the studio, though Pattengale says that should by no means imply he and Ryan sloughed off on their ambitions as songwriters.
“This project really required us to make sure these songs were bulletproof,” Pattengale explains, “that you could write down a lead sheet and slip it into the American Songbook hoping that nobody would take them out of there any time soon. That’s not necessarily how our other songs came together, but this project required that. We had to be confident in the ideas and confident in the songs themselves.”
“I’ve Been Loving You” is a song Pattengale wrote quickly “one morning in Nashville, and it didn’t take long…It’s sort of a country song that came on the heels of some regret and some sadness that I had experienced from a relationship in my life ending after many years. It was one of those things where you wake up in the morning and that’s how you get it out.” The song went through a few tweaks and morphs — what Pattengale calls “my happy place where you get to explore different chord changes and musical ideas” — and wound up with a rich, cascading conclusion that even he didn’t anticipate.
“I realized the only proper way to end the story would be to give it a sort of Roy Orbison send-off straight into the stratosphere,” Pattengale says. “So I experimented with writing a weird chord modulation. The last 45 seconds of that song really has nothing to do with the first three minutes, but somehow it all seems appropriate, or in its right place.”
All The Things That I Did… comes out June 29, and the Milk Carton Kids will be hitting the road again on June 22 to begin tour dates currently booked into November. In keeping with the approach to the new album, it marks the first time Pattengale and Ryan are touring with a full band, a prospect that’s as exciting on stage as it has been in the studio. “It’s kind of like after wearing the same suit for same years, now we’ve got seven people on stage — that’s a lot of suits to buy, so we’ve told everybody to wear their street clothes,” Pattengale quips. “But in all seriousness it’s quite exciting. I had reached a point about two years ago where the live show really felt quite stale. It was time for many a change, but chief among them was getting some excitement back in our show in a way that inspired (Ryan) and I to continue to work together. Newness in the music is the be-all, end-all for us, so it seemed obvious after making albums with more musicians that we should do the same thing with the live show.
“We rehearsed the new band in Nashville last week and it was a good time straight out of the box. I can’t say if the music sounds good, but we’re having a great time….”