The University of Miami School of Music boasts some notable alumni, two of the best known being Pat Metheny and Bruce Hornsby. Only time will tell whether Sam Friend will reach their level, but if his first EP is any indication, this 22-year-old UM grad is off to a good start.
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Friend and his outfit, the Melon Cauliflowers, have been gigging steadily in recent months, and his new, self-titled EP, recorded with contributions from other Miami musicians, suggests it has been time well spent. Having studied and traveled in Europe, Friend reflects an Anglo influence in both his faint hint of a Brit accent and the rich, rolling textures that adorn the EP's four songs. The leadoff entry, "Part of the Show," is arguably the highlight — an amiable midtempo ballad that suggests Nick Drake in cahoots with Bright Eyes. "Blue for Summer" and "Left to Write" hold to the same dreamy designs, hobbling along before finding their footing in a sunny bouquet of strumming guitars, flutes, cello, and other orchestral accouterments. The final entry, "Lashly but Not Leashly," more or less meanders along, its atmospheric ambiance imbued with introspection and uncertainty. Though all too abbreviated — the songs clock in at just more than 15 minutes — this disc is still an impressive accomplishment and showcase of what Friend has to offer.