Folk duo the Milk Carton Kids (otherwise known as Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan) continue their embrace of the full band sound that distinguishes their new album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do, from previous efforts. To accentuate that sound, the pair shot a live video for “Younger Years” at the historic Layman Drug Company studios in downtown Nashville’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood joined by an army of players.
With the delicate touch of an old Western tune, the song’s mournful tone and lyrics in its first verse suggest the desolate landscape of the Nebraska plains, in a recollection of a bitter, lawless past. But by verse three, redemption seems at hand as the duo sing: “Unbroken by despair I make amends/The love inside our hearts is the only kind of savior we’ve been sent.” Punctuated by spellbinding acoustic guitar, “Younger Years” recalls the past with regret, but holds out hope for a brighter future in a keenly observed, musically poetic nod to days gone by and times yet to come. It’s a poignant message that could also serve as a metaphor for the changing Nashville landscape where old and new buildings stand side-by-side, the future uncertain for many of the city’s more aged structures.
Although the Layman building’s history stretches back some 130 years, sharp-eyed country-music video viewers might recall catching a glimpse of its distinctive exterior in Alan Jackson’s 2003 clip for the single “www.memory.”
“Rather than do a traditional, official music video, we wanted to present a visual representation of the new phase of the Milk Carton Kids, fully focused on the music and their expanded sound,” says video director Alex Chaloff. “We wanted to capture the spirit of their live, full band. We recorded at Layman Studios in Nashville and captured multi-track and multi-camera recordings of the band in a beautiful, minimal setting. The goal was to present their music in an honest, natural setting that displays the Milk Carton Kids’ evolution from folk duo to full 7-piece band.”
All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do, produced by Joe Henry, follows up the duo’s 2015 LP Monterey. In the intervening years, Ryan became a father for the second time and Pattengale survived a bout with cancer. The Grammy-nominated and Americana Award-winning duo play Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom during AmericanaFest in September and will be on tour throughout the coming months.