Album Review | FOLK

The Milk Carton Kids, ‘Monterey’

The Milk Carton Kids usually tell a joke at the start of their live performances. They point out that not much happens during their shows, so the audience might as well snap a few photos while they strike some poses. Laughs ensue. But it’s also indicative of how the folk duo of Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, both superb vocalists and guitarists, have no use for artifice. Their unvarnished songs are, as the old saying goes, three chords and the truth. They recorded half their new third album, “Monterey,” on the road, playing in empty venues before showtime, and the other songs were tracked at a church in Nashville. No wonder the recording burrows so deeply into your mind; this is the closest they’ve come to capturing the majestic intimacy of their concerts. It’s no slight to say there’s not much here beyond the classic songcraft, the splendor of their high-lonesome harmonies, and the way their guitars entwine and frame the songs so beautifully. That’s enough to cast a spell. (Out Tuesday) JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Monterey”

The Milk Carton Kids will perform at Berklee Performance Center on Sept. 8.