JUSTIN ADAMS AND JULDEH CAMARA
TELL NO LIES
REAL WORLD (CDRW170)
Sahara, Tonio Yima, Kele Kele (No Passport No Visa), Fulani Coochie Man, Achu, Madam Mariama, Gainako, Nangu Sobeh, Banjul Girl, Chukaloy, Futa Jalo.
Now, this one is special and you know it right from the first grinding guitar notes. It's a magnificent cross-cultural blast from two musicians whose backgrounds couldn't be further apart. Justin Adams is the son of a diplomat, and first became enlightened about global music growing up listening to local music in North Africa. His partner Juldeh Camara, is a Fula griot who plays the hell out of the ritti, a one-string fiddle used mostly in Gambian traditional musical styles.
If you aren't already familiar with them, Camara has made several albums back home and Adams has been working internationally making CDs with Robert Plant, playing with Jah Wobble and Natacha Atlas and producing albums with Lo'Jo and Tinariwen.
Last year the couple brought out their first album "Soul Science". This one was a cultural fusion that you may remember for the track "Ya Ta Kaaya" that sounded like Bo Diddley having a stand-off with Pete Townsend and one of those bands you hear in downtown Bamako. Here they are again with yet another breathtaking set of entrancing tunes that have layers of seamless African rhythms flashing over and under thundering riffs of fluid rock guitar. On stuff like "Fulani Coochie Man" they dig deep into the blues form with familiar guitar lines sliced to the bone by Camara's relentlessly weaving fiddle.
"Achu" comes across as some kind of Sahara work song with Camara powering out the tune against a call and response reaction from the girl singers while his fiddle reiterates his vocal lines and Adams sneaks up from behind with a hypnotic set of electric riffs that almost have a Beatles feel to them. (You are getting the impression that it's weird and wonderful music - aren't you?)
More big guitar opens "Madam Mariama" but it's the ritti that takes centre stage walloping out a frenzied melody while Juldeh wails out long flowing vocal lines. "Banjul Girl" starts with some short sharp power chords before the whole mood develops into an almost Latin workout that romps and stomps all over the joint while Camara's fiddle and Adam's guitar spit and squeal out flourishing notes alongside the vocals.
The whole CD flows together and it's nonsense to pick out a favourite but when I feel like rocking out I put on the opener "Sahara" because of its wonderful wall of sound that has vocals mingling superbly with the psychedelic acid-ness of the guitars and a relentlessly pulverising fiddle riff.
This really is some of the most exciting and invigorating music you will hear this year. Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara's "Tell No Lies" will leave you breathless. And that's no lie!
Review Date: May 2009