August 2008

Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara - Soul Science
World Village 468076
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Soul Science is the collaborative effort of guitarist and producer Justin Adams and Gambian musician Juldeh Camara. Fusing Afro-blues and rock, the pair blend musical styles that cross cultural space and time. The flavor of traditional Gambian music is ever-present, accented by Camara's griot vocals and instruments ranging from the ritti (one-string fiddle), gologo (West African banjo), and tehardant (Tamashek lute), but Adams' rootsy guitar and a driving percussion accompaniment constantly remind the listener that this is music for modern times.

The lyrics address topics such as lineage, labor, dancing, women, ne’r-do-wells, fallen warriors, and other day-to-day issues of African life, but the spirit of the music is cross-cultural and all-encompassing. The style is reminiscent of Ali Farka Touré and other traditional Afro-beat artists, but Adams (who has toured extensively with Robert Plant) puts a groove and spin on each track that extend the breadth into citified nightclub realms.

Camara's incessant fiddling is tinged with a tribal rhythmic quality that is especially pleasing, and Adams' guitar fits snuggly in between all other instruments, content to contribute rather than require a spotlight. The sound on Soul Science is evenly balanced and up front, perfect as sophisticated background or as loud as the volume will go, but if the latter is the case, be sure to clear some room for dancing.