British quintet Me and My Friends are set to release their captivating and mesmerising second album, Hide Your Way, on Soundway Records this summer. A unique and singular blend, it's the sound of English folk colliding head-on with the golden-era music of 1970s West Africa and the Caribbean. Towering vocal harmonies, soaring cello and clarinet lines, colossal basslines and drum patterns combine on an exquisite rollercoaster-ride of the emotions from euphoria to melancholia and back again.
Bound by a mutual love of the sun-drenched vintage sounds of afrobeat, soukous, highlife and roots reggae, the UK-based 5-piece re-invent these influences around the instantly recognisable voice and finger-style guitar of songwriter and singer Nick Rasle.
The band’s sound involves a meeting of diverse musical backgrounds: Fred Harper’s gospel-influenced drumming and James Grunwell’s deep basslines provide the bed for Sam Murray’s growling clarinet tone and Emma Coleman’s strident cello and flawless ear for vocal harmony.
Having enthralled festival audiences across the UK with their breathless live show, Hide Your Way sees the band embarking on a deeper exploration of the playfulness and rhythmic agility which has come to define their sound. A rich and varied pool of musical ideas sits alongside a plaintive lyricism, as the songs tell tales of regret, corruption, loss and deceit. The result is something fresh and original, marrying the emotional vocal power of folk music with early jazz and delta-blues singing and the driving rhythms of West-Africa's golden era and the heart and soul of the great roots-reggae songwriters.
The band’s approach is encapsulated in ‘All That is You’ and ‘Holiday’. Over a rolling, syncopated afro-inspired groove, the former expresses the emotional inventory and flashing memories of a mind reeling from a teetering relationship. The latter meanwhile sketches the hypocrisy pervading the international media image of repressive regimes, illustrating the easy passage of a dictator from darling to villain and back again. The two tracks take the listener on a cyclical musical journey, twisting and turning through different rhythms before eventually returning to the ideas at their core.