Me and My Friends – Look Up

Album Review | Split Shift Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 5/5

With shades of Penguin Cafe Orchestra in places, notably on the instrumental title track “Look Up”, and with a wealth of Sade-like vocal inflections, Me and My Friends’ third album release seems to ooze joy from the start, with an infectious album opener “Another Lifetime”. The UK-based outfit, namely Nick Rasle on guitar, Emma Coleman on cello, Sam Murray on clarinet, each of whom provide the band’s distinctive vocals, together with James Grunwell on bass and Fred Harper on drums and percussion, soak up the essence of a range of West African grooves, such as Afrobeat, Soukous and Highlife, together with their own take on roots reggae, resulting in a vivacious mix, which is immediately accessible both on and off the dance floor. Once the groove is established, there’s a tendency to feel short changed if the song finishes too early, which is largely due to the delicate exchanges between the cello and clarinet and some of the most gorgeous harmony vocals. Fortunately most of the selections are generously timed. With all nine self-penned selections, save from the one cover, a sultry reading of John Lee Hooker’s bluesy Sometime, Me and My Friends create a warm and inviting sonic experience throughout, urging further investigation on this reviewers part with immediate effect.