One of my favorite current CDs is the newest release from guitarist Justin Adams, Soul Science. I’ve long been attracted to the desert sounds of North Africa. In recent years, I’ve been fascinated with discovering the link between so much of this music to the blues and subsequently rock. While I love to listen to the traditional artists, I think this newer hybrid that’s happening has really got my ear.
Justin Adams was born in England and spent some time living in Egypt. His musical influences range from the bluesy sounds of North Africa to punk and rock. In the 1990s, Adams was part of the group Jah Wobble. He also recorded and toured with Sinead O'Connor and Natacha Atlas. He's scored the soundtrack for the film Kin as well as contributing tracks to the Bosnian film Beautiful People.
Justin has also made a name for himself as producer for the French band Lo'Jo and the Tuareg group Tinariwen. In 2000 he released his first solo album Desert Road to critical acclaim. Around that time, singer Robert Plant discovered him and asked him to join his new band, later named Strange Sensation to which he has been a part of the amazingly successful Dreamland and Mighty Rearranger.
Soul Science, his recent release, is the collaboration with guitarist Justin Adams and Gambian Griot, Juldeh Camara, who also is a master kora player. Both bring a unique sound to things. Justin’s an amazing rock/blues guitarist who’s time spent immersed in the music of Algeria, Morocco and Mali, blended with Camara’s own roots has created this amazing record that’s almost hard to describe.
You have songs like "Ngamen" which underneath the African rhythms is this fantastic acoustic blues root that if you closed your eyes, you might think Willie Dixon was playing! The rhthym and feel of "Ya Ta Kaaya" sounds like early Chuck Berry. Standout tracks for me are the energetic "Yerro Mama", the lamenting bluesy "Subuhanalaii" and I absolutely love "Blue Man Returns" which is a reworking of the song "Blue Man" from Justin’s Desert Road album.
They are currently embarking on a tour throughout the UK, including performances at the Glastonbury Music Festival and WOMAD. I’m hoping they will take this stateside. I can only imagine how intoxicating this sound would be to see and hear live.