Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2008, Volume 15, #5
Written by Douglas Heselgrave
Tue May 27, 2008, 06:30 AM CDT
Soul Science is a slow-burning album that reveals its many surprises and innovations gradually. It is a collaboration between Justin Adams — the guitarist in Strange Sensation, Robert Plant’s backing band — and Juldeh Camara — a griot from Gambia who plays a rifti (a one-string fiddle). Its 11 songs provide some of the tastiest gut-bucket blues this side of Muddy Waters’ early material. The music is, at once, reassuringly familiar and utterly exotic and strange. Embedded within the album’s subtext is a commentary on the history of blues’ and rock’s African origins that is as alluring, enticing, and challenging as anyone is ever likely to hear.
Over the past several years, Adams has become something of a cultural ambassador for music that is fomenting in West Africa’s desert region. A veteran of the post-punk scene in Britain, Adams worked as a session guitarist with the likes of Sinead O’Connor, Jah Wobble, and Peter Gabriel before he issued Desert Road, his solo debut in 2001. On the album, which he recorded in his home studio, Adams conjured a series of gentle electronica-inspired, percussive soundscapes, which echoed the desert rhythms of the Tuareg people. With tasty blues licks, which he superimposed over the basic tracks, Desert Road offered listeners a chance to enjoy the similarities among ancient desert rhythms, gospel music, and early rock ’n‘ roll. On a subsequent trip through Mali with Plant in 2003, he encountered the swirling melodies and hypnotic grooves of Tinariwen and Tartit at the Festival in the Desert. Adams’ subsequent collaborations with Tinariwen produced a pair of fine albums: Amassakoul and Aman Iman.
Each of the songs on Soul Science represents an equal collaboration between Adams and Camara. The yearning insistence of Camara’s rifti playing defines the melodies, which range from the searing Bo Diddley-inspired distortions that are captured on Yo Ta Kaaya to the lovely, lilting, desert-born dreamscapes that are offered on Yo Lay Lay. Working within a blues structure, Adams uses his guitar to help the listener find and ride the dominant rhythms by making a bridge between African traditional grooves and the rock, funk, and soul that since have grown out of them. Many of the tracks on Soul Science are supported by the muscular percussion of Salah Dawson Miller, an Algerian-influenced hand-drummer. Together, the trio has created one of the most unusual and interesting collaborations to be issued this year. It might take a little patience, but if it is approached with open ears, fans of Led Zeppelin, Ali Farka Toure, Blind Willie McTell, and Muddy Waters will find a lot to enjoy on Soul Science. ˝
Of Further Interest...
Soul Science is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box