Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara : Tell No Lies
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Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara
Tell No Lies
Real World (www.realworldrecords.com)

There must be multitudes of people who are pleased that Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara only waited about a year to follow up their smashing previous release, Soul Science. Given that their working relationship has been marked by a certain spontaneity, it's really no surprise that their second album came about in short order. Nor is it any shock that this sophomore effort is as rousingly good as their first.

Englishman Adams is not only the longtime guitarist in Robert Plant's band but has links to African music as well, having produced two of Tinariwen's albums and jammed onstage with the Malian guitar band. Plus, his 2002 CD Desert Road was an admirable mix of rock, blues and Saharan ambiences that showed the depth of those connections as clearly as anything released along the same lines since.

It was Desert Road that caught the ear of Gambia's Juldeh Camara, who discovered how well his playing of the ritti, a single-stringed spike fiddle, fit in with Adams' work. The two hooked up, quickly discovered a musical kinship that exceeded mutual expectations and recorded Soul Science, a hard-hitting instant classic that made blues-rock and West African griot music sound like a perfect blend (just as many would rightly contend they've always been).

Their new Tell No Lies retains the refreshing jolt of the previous collaboration, offering up Bo Diddley-infused jams ("Fulani Coochie Man," "Nangu Sobeh"), meditations with a lighter swing ("Gainako," "Chukaloy Dayoy," "Futa Jalo") and even a blistering excursion into Latin rhythms ("Banjul Girl") that the first album left unexplored. As before, Adams and Camara are joined by percussionist Salah Dawson Miller, who boosts the energy and quality levels up a notch with his array of drums, calabashes and assorted toys. New to the picture is singer Mim Suleiman, adding an extra keening edge to Camara's lead vocals, refining without overly smoothing. The whole disc has the feel of a group simply getting together and cranking out some top flight African/Western fusion for the pure joy of it. They pass every note of that joy along and, I tell you no lie, create what will surely end up as one of the year's best releases. - Tom Orr

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