Justin Adams, Soul Science

Keith Harris

By Keith Harris

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Soul Science

Justin Adams

There has never been any shortage of white British musicians whose fascination with African music deludes them into offering their own contributions. But guitarist Justin Adams is no mere cultural tourist. Perhaps the most inventive African-influenced guitarist currently recording in the UK, Adams routinely collaborates with fellow desert-blues enthusiast Robert Plant. Together, they set up the Festival of the Desert, an admirable annual display of the broad variety of contemporary West African music.

British African-influenced guitarist teams up with Gambian griot for a shapely showcase of fine musicianship.

In fact, it was noted Gambian griot Juldeh Camara who sought Adams out for this fruitful collaboration. Camara contributes a sawing ritti (one-string fiddle) and percussive gologo (banjo) to Adams 'electric and acoustic plucking and fluttering, along with strong, if occasionally generic vocals, and both men contribute on percussion.

The album kicks off with two sure shots. "Yerro Mama," a celebration of a legendary African warrior, hammers home its message with a series of killer bass plunges. And "Ya Ta Kaaya (I Want to Stay Fresh)" transports Bo Diddley'sshave-and-a-haircut beat back to its homeland, and goes out, according to its translation, to women "of sweet smells, fresh and pleasant." From there, the album blossoms into a shapely showcase of fine musicianship. And as a platform for two craftsmen, carefully listening to and playing off each another, it tops whoever's being touted as the latest heir to Ali Farka Touré these days.