Me and My Friends have released their new single, 'You Read My Mind', as they gear up for their new album release next month. The track premiered at Folk Radio who admired the"...beautiful plucked cello and Latin-inspired strings". Read the full piece here.
Sparkling guitar lines, an addictive vocal hook and a bouncy, syncopated groove, 'You Read My Mind' is a playful tribute to vintage Ghanaian highlife greats such as Pat Thomas, Ebo Taylor and K. Frimpong. At the centre of the track is a gorgeous plucked cello solo, which slowly builds into a euphoric crescendo, as the band create a version of the highlife style which is wholly their own.
The band have been touring the UK throughout the autumn, upcoming dates include a newly announced show on Thursday 6th December at Rich Mix in London.
Nick Rasle, songwriter in Me and My Friends, told Folk Radio UK:
'We had been toying with using plucked cello as a lead line for a while, as we felt it's such an underused texture - more melodic than the double bass, and more meaty than the violin or viola. As we played the groove, more and more ideas kept coming to Emma, so we decided to make it the focus for the track, and place it centre-stage'.
The track is an exploration of rhythmic and melodic ideas over a modal theme, an approach inspired by early 70s music from Ghana and Nigeria.
'You Read My Mind' is a typical example of the Me and My Friends sound: unashamedly drawing from a specific genre, yet remaining unplaceable in time and space; a dance track filled with gentle, lilting melodies and supremely uplifting vocal harmonies; a catchy single in opposition to the tradition of pop songwriting.
Me and My Friends play soulful, poignant, and gloriously danceable music, subtly referencing many styles, including vintage Ghanaian highlife, Jamaican roots and Afro-Brazilian folk. The UK-based quintet create a timeless sound with a global outlook, performed with an infectious energy, and the result is instantly recognisable, highly original and truly genre-defying.
On their new album ‘Look Up’, coming December 6th via Split Shift, the elegant voice and West African finger-picking guitar style of songwriter Nick Rasle is cradled by stunning vocal harmonies and the evocative combination of cello and clarinet, all underpinned by a rhythm section with a deep sense of groove. ‘Look Up’ draws heavily on early 70s acoustic soul, as well as the modal ‘Ethiopiques’ of Mulatu Astatke and the minimalism of the Penguin Café Orchestra.
Built on deceptively simple, yet richly satisfying grooves, the songs explore timeless themes of friendship (‘Another Lifetime’), commitment (‘Promise Me This Much’) and nostalgia (‘High As The Sun’). Having worked in a volunteer kitchen on the Greek island of Lesbos at the height of the refugee crisis in 2016, Nick Rasle recounts a tale he heard over and over on the haunting roots reggae track 'Good Life'. Drawing on the determination of the people he encountered to feel hope, to look forward and to be acknowledged, the song is a call for empathy and understanding in our increasingly intolerant society.
From the title track ‘Look Up’ with its energetic afro-beat, addictive melody, and jazzy breakdown, to the atmospheric ‘All Of This I Know’ that has clear influences from avant-garde British folk, the album takes the listener on a journey through many genres and cultures.
Me and My Friends released their critically acclaimed second album ‘Hide Your Way’ on Soundway Records in 2016. After support from the likes of Songlines, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4 and BBC 6 Music in the UK, the group also had recognition from nu-jazz DJ, Will Holland, as the album headed up Quantic’s ‘favourites of the year’ mix.
On ‘Look Up’, Me and My Friends have refined their signature sound into one that travels through many styles and influences and yet remains with you in a wholly unique way.
UK live dates below or via Songkick: Thursday 6th Dec, Rich Mix, London Saturday 8th Dec - Cobalt Studios, Newcastle