Most bands change. That includes The Milk Carton Kids, my subject today for A Year In December.

Artists grow out of their styles. Laura Marling, The Tallest Man On Earth, all the way back to Bob Dylan. Countless songwriters have opened up their sound by moving away from the acoustic guitar. Although the first question that comes to mind when such an artist breaks onto the scene is how long before they give it up, an even fairer question might be how long before the fans get bored? I can’t answer this question since I wasn’t bored even after Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan’s 4th album Monterey in 2015 and it’s hard to tell if I would’ve been okay with another acoustic offering in 2018. We aren’t even all that far away from when the duo would crack a joke about how their tour opener Margaret Glaspy played, gasp, an electric guitar. As it is, I’m mostly ambivalent about All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do but ‘You Break My Heart,’ nestled somewhere in the middle of the album, is my favourite. A wilder range of instruments, to be sure, but none of them played heavy-handedly. The slide guitar is a charmer, swinging too and fro with Ryan’s voice. Cue the camera: sleepy romantics walking along the highway. The diner is quiet, the tire swings vacated, the sun bakes dry grass. It is somewhere in America and it could be worse. For now, The Milk Carton Kids are still making music.

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