UMPHREY’S MCGEE – Safety In Numbers

UMPHREY'S MCGEE - Safety In Numbers


Release date: March 31, 2006

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As one of the leading bands on the Jamband scene revival (check out the facts section below), Umphrey’s McGee has released their 6th studio album, Safety In Numbers, and have changed their focus slightly. Where their previous album was focused on improvisations, Safety In Numbers is in praise to good old songwriting craftsmanship.

The Music

Still, the musical diversity on Safety In Numbers is vast, just like all of their other efforts, recorded live or in studio. With one leg in Rock, the other jumps from Folk to Prog via Hard, Pop, and Jazz. Although quite straightly arranged, there is a loose feel to the album, coming from the seemingly effortless playing and appropriately frequent soloing. The production is simply spot on, leaving plenty of room for each voice and instrument.

The framework in their music is found in the landscape between guitar, drums, and bass. On top of this is spun an oftentimes tangled web of voices and various instrumental themes, but with a root in good melodies, like in opener “Believe The Lie” and later “Liquid,” both offering a certain Psychedelic expression.

They are quite funky in “Nemo,” “Intentions Clear,” and “Ocean Billy,” while “Rocker” offers a softer feel (almost like Nick Drake gone Progressive …) and parts of “Words” are as meditative and melancholic as any Eric Satie piece. Then, with “Women Wine And Song,” a laid back Reggae feel runs through the verse (with a guest appearance by Huey Lewis on harmonica and later vocals), whereas a pushy Rhythm ‘n’ Blues groove runs the chorus. A very nice piece it is!

They expose their fascination for The Beatles (at least for George Harrison) in the acoustic guitar instrumental “End Of The Road.” Some of the same mellow mood is found in concluding track “The Weight Around,” which also offers a trip back to the age of Flower Power. “Passing,” on the other hand, offers some mighty fine vocal arrangements down its Popish, laid back Rock path.

It’s hard to pick favorites among so many brilliant songs, but “Women Wine And Song” and “Words” at least stand a fair chance for such a price, with “End Of The Road” being a close runner up!

The Band

Originally formed 1997 in Chicago (Illinois, USA) as a quartet, today’s line-up counts to six. They form a strong unity, although the works of Brendan Bayliss (guitars, vocals) and Jake Cinnininger (guitars, synths, vocals), along with the keyboards of Joel Cummings, are perhaps the most noticeable. Completing and balancing the expression is Andy Farag (percussion), Kris Myers (drums, vocals), and Ryan Stasik (bass). Their remarkable stage chemistry is well-presented even on this album, bearing witness to a band with a deeper insight into each other’s emotional and technical domain.

The Verdict

It’s hard not to appreciate Safety In Numbers. Umphrey’s McGee has successfully fetched from their vault a set of melodic songs and added zest to them, resulting in a hypnotic and entertaining blend of impressions. The album is even worthwhile simply for its brilliant vocal arrangements and expressive guitar work.

The Facts

The revival of the jamband scene enamates from the USA, but Europe has recently taken quite a fancy to this improvisational style of music. There is a huge selection of Umphrey’s McGee concert recordings available at their homepage, along with the more usual biography and discography stuff.


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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