The latest release from the Milk Carton Kids, The Ash & Clay (Anti) evokes nothing so much as stripped-down Simon and Garfunkel: the sweetness and beauty of two voices singing in harmony, the delicate interplay of two acoustic guitars, and the beauty and strength of great songwriting. This record was made by a small but mighty crew of three: the Kids—Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale—and engineer Ryan Freeland (ryanfreeland.com), who recorded, mixed and mastered the album in his personal studio, Stampede Origin (West L.A.).
“When they rehearse, they stand close together, facing each other and looking at each other, so we recorded that way. That’s how they’re most comfortable, so I put the mics as close together as possible and worked with it,” Freeland says.
Five mics did the trick during the week-long session: “I had two M 49s on their vocals, two U 67s on their acoustics, and an AEA A440 active ribbon in between them; that caught a little bit of a mono version of everything. I didn’t use any compression or anything else; I wanted the mics to be the vibe-y part of it.”
“One song, ‘Promised Land,’ sounds different from the rest because Kenneth had just finished writing it and was sitting on the floor in the corner, away from the mics, rehearsing.” Freeland continues. “After he played through it Kenneth came in and said, ‘Can we listen to that?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, what? You were playing a take in there?’ Thankfully I’m always in Record. That first pass became the master take on the album.”