Lately, I’ve been finding lots of great new music. But despite spending more time than ever on this task I still miss many releases. That’s why several weeks ago, I decided to launch a feature to capture some of what I overlooked as short takes. Initially titled The Follow-up, going forward it will be known as Catching Up, a more appropriate title, in my view. Today, I’d like to highlight two albums that dropped on May 19.
Luke Enyeart – Phases
Luke Enyeart (pronounced N-Yurt) is a guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer who is based in Minneapolis, Minn. I first came across his name in April 2020 as one of the co-writers of Waiting On…, a song by R&B artist Jessy Wilson from her May 2019 album Phase, which I reviewed here. In addition to writing for other artists and touring as a lead guitarist with the likes of Ryan Bingham, Katie Pruitt and Yola, Enyeart has been penning his own tunes and in 2018 released his debut EP Happier Now. Now he’s out with his first album, Phases.
Enyeart’s Spotify profile characterizes his original music as “drawing from his influences of ’70s yacht rock, funk, folk, R&B, blues, and contemporary low-fi indie. ” While that’s quite a stew of different genres, the profile adds, “there is a common denominator of soulful groove and catchy guitar riffs with straightforward-earnest lyrics.”
Except for the funky opener Still Tryin’, which Enyeart co-wrote with Jacob Peter and Kosta Galanopoulos, the remaining eight tracks are solely credited to him. One of the tunes that particularly spoke to me is Turn It Around. In addition to vocals by Enyeart, who also plays most of the instruments, the mellow song features nice alto saxophone action by Steve Frieder.
Other tracks I’d like to call out include Changes and Pillow Talk and the groovy Need, which each feature neat slide guitar, as well as the acoustic-oriented jazzy Green. Overall, this album has a pleasant laid-back feel – the kind of music I can picture hearing while laying in a hammock in the shade on a hot summer day. Phases was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Enyeart in his own home studio. This young artist is a true multi-talent!
The Milk Carton Kids – I Only See the Moon
The Milk Carton Kids are an indie folk duo from Eagle Rock, Calif., featuring singers and guitarists Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, who have been around for 12 years. Their compelling harmony singing reminds me of Simon & Garfunkel and The Everly Brothers. Pattengale and Ryan are also mighty fine acoustic guitarists.
Before getting to their sixth and latest studio album I Only See the Moon, here’s a bit more background from their AllMusic bio: A Grammy Award-nominated neo-traditional folk duo from Los Angeles, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan formed the Milk Carton Kids in early 2011, shelving their solo careers in favor of a collaborative project that focused on harmonized vocals, entwined acoustic guitars, and rootsy songwriting. They released their first two albums — the live Retrospect and studio LP Prologue — later in 2011, at which time they also began a pattern of persistent touring.
Known on the road for their adversarial, Smothers Brothers-evoking comedic banter as well as their virtuosic guitar skills (Pattengale’s intricate picking and Ryan’s airtight rhythm guitar), they added a backing band to the project for the first time in 2018 with their fourth studio album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do. The duo pared things down for subsequent releases including 2023’s I Only See the Moon.
Off I Only See the Moon, here’s Body & Soul. Like all except one of the other nine tracks, the song was solely written by Pattengale and Ryan. It’s the most invigorated tune on the album, which otherwise has a more melancholic feel. As such, one could argue the song doesn’t represent the album; however, it’s the song I latched on the most!
Other tracks I’d like to call out are All of the Time in the World to Kill, the one tune on the album that involved a co-writer, Brian Wright; When You’re Gone, which includes some lovely banjo; I Only See the Moon, the title track featuring a string arrangement that gives it a more produced feel; and North Country Ride, another gorgeous tune.
Sources: Wikipedia; AllMusic; YouTube; Spotify