Umphrey’s McGee has revealed details for the band’s 14th studio album, Asking For A Friend. Out on July 1st via the progressive sextet’s Nothing Too Fancy Music imprint, the announcement comes alongside a single, “Small Strides”.

Fans got a taste of Asking For A Friend without knowing it last month with “I Don’t Know What I Want“. The 14-track LP’s title comes from the line at that single, “I’m only looking for an antidote/What if I’m only asking for a friend?” In David Fricke‘s liner notes, he reveals the inspiration for Brendan Bayliss‘s lyrics came from the sudden death of friend and Yonder Mountain String Band founder Jeff Austin in 2019.

“I was thinking about a friend that I couldn’t help,” Bayliss said. “There’s something to be said for speaking your mind. If it’s a true emotion, it’s something everyone can feel: ‘Why is this happening to me?’”

The name choice is indicative of the wealth of sinister emotions explored on Asking For A Friend. Umphrey’s McGee processes the grief and turmoil that was COVID-19’s reckoning of the live music industry, with sanitized sessions at guitarist Jake Cinninger‘s Boondock home studio in Niles, MI and the band’s Chicago warehouse.

“Those first three months felt like an eternity,” Cinninger says. But “there was a huge excitement and motivation when we got back together again. More than ever, we realized how much we needed each other and this music.”

Related: Umphrey’s McGee Busts Out Metallica Cover On Night One In Asheville [Photos/Video/Full Audio]

Fricke, who first profiled UM for Rolling Stone in 2002 surrounding the release of Local Band Does O.K., calls Asking For A Friend the “most emotionally direct album Umphrey’s McGee have ever made.” With “Small Strides”, listeners get another glimpse of the album’s developing image. Straightforward instrumentation cedes to Brendan’s deflated lyricism, ripe with the lethargy of the past two years of the pandemic. The intricately composed passages for which Umphrey’s is known arrive as an afterthought once Brendan has said his piece.

“We are still entrenched in the jam-band scene,” keyboardist Joel Cummins said. But Asking For A Friend “is not a jam-band record. There isn’t improvisation on it, really. There are guitar and keyboard solos. But this is an effort to keep things tight and concise, to get after the essence of what these songs are about.”

Listen to the new Umphrey’s McGee single “Small Strides” and pre-order Asking For A Friend. The band is gearing up for a sold-out three-night run at Belly Up Aspen March 18th–20th ahead of its long-awaited Röckjavik destination event in Iceland. For tickets and a full list of tour dates visit the band’s website.

Umphrey’s McGee – “Small Strides”

Asking For A Friend Tracklist
I Don’t Know What I Want (4:51)
Small Strides (4:31)
Always October (4:13)
Fenced In (3:51)
New Wings (5:17)
So Much (3:42)
Dayville Monarchy (4:05)
Hiccup (3:07)
Pure Saturation (4:56)
It’s Not Your Fault (3:25)
Escape Goat (5:33)
How About Now? (3:36)
Ordinary Times (3:58)
Work Sauce (4:14)

View Tracklist

“Small Strides” Lyrics

I’m so tired of the run around
Everybody’s all wired to burst
Time lies and it’s never accountable
It all seems too rehearsed
All sides can come around (if you wanted)
Small strides at first (if you want it)
Takes all kinds to get it right (think you got it)
I might be the worst
Does it feel alright leaving no replies
Doesn’t seem too overpriced
Didn’t mean to bite but you’re so uptight
Stuck in between what’s right and what works
Everytime I look at you, all
All I wanna do
Is turn your baby brown eye blue
Everything you gotta say, I’ll take it
If there’s anything you wanna break
Anything you wanna do, believe me when I
Tell you that I want it too
You know that I’ll be alright, everything so well timed
You really shouldn’t be so surprised
If it’s real then why do any other rules apply
You really couldn’t see a smaller stride
You know that I’ll be alright, everything so well timed
You really shouldn’t be so surprised
If it’s real then why do any other rules apply
Stuck in between what’s right and what works

View Lyrics