Track-by-Track: The Milk Carton Kids Dive into ‘I Only See the Moon,’ Their Intimate & Cinematic 7th Album

The Milk Carton Kids © Brendan Pattengale
The Milk Carton Kids © Brendan Pattengale
The Milk Carton Kids dive into their breathtakingly beautiful seventh album ‘I Only See the Moon,’ a soul-stirring, cinematic, and achingly raw love letter to loss and reconciliation, connection and catharsis.
“All Of The Time In The World To Kill” – The Milk Carton Kids




The world won’t end the way you think or when you think it will,” The Milk Carton Kids sing at the start of their seventh album. “Time’s a thief, why are we standing still? We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill…” On paper, these words feel ominous – slightly haunting, even – and yet, when sung in sweet harmonic unison by Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, they’re tender and soothing – a comfort for the ears, the mind, and the heart. It’s a fitting way for the three-time Grammy nominees to kick off their second decade together, not to mention a beautiful start to one of the most intimate records of their career: A soul-stirring, cinematic, and achingly raw love letter to loss and reconciliation, connection and catharsis, The Milk Carton Kids’ I Only See the Moon is a breathtakingly beautiful addition to the modern folk canon.

I Only See the Moon - The Milk Carton Kids
I Only See the Moon – The Milk Carton Kids
The world won’t end the way
you think or when you think it will
Time’s a thief, why are we standing still?
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill
The girls don’t smile so free and
so wild but they go on smiling still
And right they are, every night’s for the stars
They’ve got all of the time in the world to kill
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill

Released May 19, 2023 via Far Cry Records / Thirty Tigers, I Only See the Moon is a stunning addition to The Milk Carton Kids’ already celebrated repertoire.

Founded in Los Angeles over ten years ago by singer/songwriters Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, The Milk Carton Kids emerged in the late 2010s as a need-to-know name in the American folk circuit. Albums like 2011’s Prologue, 2013’s The Ash & Clay, 2015’s Monterey, and 2018’s All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do setting the band apart as they delved into the depths of folk and Americana music, exploring and experimenting with range, depth, and space all while keeping true to their roots.

The Milk Carton Kids © Brendan Pattengale
The Milk Carton Kids © Brendan Pattengale



Longtime fans of the band might very well consider their new album a homecoming of sorts, and they’d be the first ones to agree.

“Twelve years into our collaboration, we wanted to make an album that tapped into whatever that original igniting impulse was that drove us together in the first place, and see what it would yield more than a decade later, with everything we’d learned and all the ways the world has shifted,” Pattengale and Ryan tell Atwood Magazine. “We also wanted to hold ourselves accountable to writing a collection of songs that would really light us up and become the scaffolding for the next couple years of touring. We originally finished the record in a couple weeks, but threw out most of it to start over when we realized we’d missed the mark on the songwriting front. It was another year till we finished and what we ended up with seems to have been worth that process.”

“The main constraint we placed on ourselves was that just the two of us would be in the room. But we also knew we wouldn’t limit it to just our two guitars and two voices, as we’d done before. So the colors are more expansive than some of our past records, but the intimacy is preserved. We stuck to that vision over the year and a half we were recording until the very last day when our friend Christian came to play bass on one song. He nailed it.”




The Milk Carton Kids © David McClister
The Milk Carton Kids © David McClister

The pair describe I Only See The Moon as a love letter to loss and reconciliation.

“A turning inward against the vertiginous technophilic haze in search of intimacy and timelessness,” as Pattengale puts it.

“This record reflects both the freedoms and constraints of being a duo. We’ve always wanted to see how rich a picture we could paint with our limited palette, and we definitely reached some new territory on this one, which is exciting. Mostly, the songs feel important to us, which as songwriters is kind of the only barometer we can use to measure our success. I guess that and Spotify monthly streams.”

The album’s title, taken from the beautiful, string-laden song of the same name, speaks to so much of the subtle musical and lyrical magic awaiting listeners in every song. “Somehow the imagery and metaphors that run throughout the album all converge on this song, and this title,” the band explain. “The phrase points to all the mystery, loneliness, and hope we mean to explore.”

Those themes and motifs come to life throughout I Only See the Moon‘s ten track run. Aforementioned album opener “All of the Time in the World to Kill” sets the scene for all that’s to come: Ethereal, dark, and gentle, the song offers a powerful and poignant perspective on life and (of course) time as the pair sing wistfully from perspectives past and present:

Sleep tonight lying still by my side
untroubled in your dreaming
And may you become forever young
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill
The boys play on– a familiar song
They’ll go on singing until the break of dawn
Blink…now we’re gone
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill
I love you now like I loved you then
The world must still be spinning
Forever stay in my arms this way
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill
We’ve got all of the time in the world to kill

“We started writing it on a tour bus in Alberta several years ago with our friend Brian Wright,” the duo explain. “Two kids, a marriage, and a pandemic later, the lyrics took on new meaning for us and we finished writing it as completely different people than when we began.”

The Milk Carton Kids © David McClister
The Milk Carton Kids © David McClister



The Milk Carton Kids © David McClister
The Milk Carton Kids © David McClister

Further highlights include the softly stirring lullaby “Star Shine,” the bluegrass-inspired “When You’re Gone” (one of the band’s personal favorites), the enchanting, cinematic title track “I Only See the Moon” (a truly breathtaking standout), the heartrending Simon & Garfunkel-esque “Running on Sweet Smile,” the sweeping six-minute serenade “North Country Ride,” and the bittersweet finale, “Will You Remember Me.”

Those last two tracks are lyrical highlights for Pattengale and Ryan as well, as they share two of their favorite lines off the album:

Let’s take the north country ride
Where it stays light so far into the night
We’ll keep the moon in our eyes
Breathe the ions until everything feels alright
– “North Country Ride
Will you remember me
When we were young
When we had nothing
When we had nowhere to be
– “Will You Remember Me




The Milk Carton Kids © Brendan Pattengale
The Milk Carton Kids © Brendan Pattengale

The Milk Carton Kids are seven albums deep and over a decade into their career, and it’s clear they still have miles to go.

I Only See the Moon is their most intimate venture yet, and one that’s well worth the journey.

“I haven’t been as happy with the collection of songs that we’ve put on record probably since our first record, and it’s because of a lot of the lessons we’ve learned over the years, including giving yourself time and space,” Ryan says.

“Hopefully it transports people for 40 minutes or so, where they’re not thinking about anything else, feeling connected,” he adds. Also hopefully they cry.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside The Milk Carton Kids’ I Only See the Moon with Atwood Magazine as Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan take us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their seventh studio album!

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:: connect with The Milk Carton kids here ::
Stream: ‘I Only See the Moon’ – The Milk Carton Kids



:: Inside I Only See the Moon ::

I Only See the Moon - The Milk Carton Kids

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All Of The Time In The World To Kill

This one sets the tone for the record both thematically and sonically. We started writing it on a tour bus in Alberta several years ago with our friend Brian Wright. Two kids, a marriage, and a pandemic later, the lyrics took on new meaning for us and we finished writing it as completely different people than when we began.



Star Shine

Star Shine is one of the only tracks we stood up on just our two guitars and two voices. Lyrically it lives in that ambiguous space between nostalgia and regret, where it sometimes feels like they’re the same thing.

When You’re Gone

Our first banjo song! Old time banjo music has become a big influence on our tastes in the last few years, including our concept of song structure. This is a bit of a modern take on it, and is an ode to a good friend and great banjo player.



Wheels And Levers

Old time banjo music can be hypnotic and cyclical, so this looping descending guitar progression flows well from that, with Kenneth’s extended guitar explorations leading down to the darkest emotional midpoint of the record before we climb back out.

I Only See The Moon

The title track is the centerpiece of the album and taps into most of its major themes and lyrical tropes. It draws more from the likes of Chet Baker than any Folk influences, and sonically it is the least related to the rest of the recordings, but it sits at the record’s crucial emotional low point before we ascend back to some sense of levity and hope. It really ties the room together.



Running On Sweet Smile

This track is the first one we tackled in the studio, and probably cements the record’s identity as a “Folk” album, which is important to us. It’s an aesthetic, tradition, and community we’ve felt a part of for more than a decade now, and has provided a great home for songs of uncertainty and hope like this one.

One True Love

If you write banjo songs, it is VERY difficult not to kill people in them. Murder ballads, Appalachian revenge fantasies, Shakesperean tragic deaths — all the purview of a good banjo tune. Again, this song has a modern perspective but takes part in that great tradition of untimely mortality.



Body & Soul

A breathless ode to the frenetic and disorienting lifestyle we live as touring musicians, but probably relatable to anyone in the modern world. Hang in there, y’all.

North Country Ride

If there’s one thing we love, it’s an expansive opus to a lost love with soaring harmonies and dissonant guitar motifs. Hard to make a record without one, honestly, and by the end of this one you feel like you’ve ended up in a different place from where you started.



Will You Remember Me

A farewell tune that clings desperately to a desire for permanence. It’s nice to close the album with a love song.

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:: connect with The Milk Carton kids here ::



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I Only See the Moon - The Milk Carton Kids

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? © Brendan Pattengale

:: Stream The Milk Carton Kids ::



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