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Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara



Tell No Lies


 Real World Records








A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!



Phrases like ‘hot licks’ are usually reserved for anaemic looking rock musicians with long hair and tight trousers, but in the case of the uniquely dynamic duo of 2008 BBC ‘Culture Crossing’ award winners - English guitarist/composer Justin Adams and riti or nyanyeru (one string, West African violin) master and singer/composer from Mali Juldeh Camara, the phrase nonetheless applies, in double measure. From its first compulsively engaging track, ‘Sahara’, words were not enough to describe my enthusiasm for this vibrant CD, which, for the most part was best expressed by dancing.

‘Sahara’ is one of the finest tracks imaginable, as it has everything going for it – the song itself, with its unexpected turns of sound, charismatic singing and fiery riti playing of Juldeh Camara and the ever shifting, open to anything rock n roll meets the wider world guitar, on this number, bass guitar, of Justin Adams. The imaginative Percussion playing of Salah Dawson Miller, also features at times, rather subtly, at others sultry on many of this album’s tracks. ‘Tonio Yima’ is just as hooking, if not more so, with its rocky riffs, especially designed by Adams to reel you in, abetted by Billy Fuller on bass, moving steadily above and beyond an almost decadently sumptuous feast of spirited singing from Juldeh Camara and two alternating back-up singers, the pleasing feminine voice of Mim Suleiman, the other, a more guttural, bassy male.

However, the mutual joy Adams and Camara exude on this super-collaboration really bursts forth on ‘Kele Kele’ (No Passport No Visa) which, allows everyone on this recording, including Adams to display their vocal talents, generating a real ‘let’s live while we’re living’, multi-cultural feel. But oooh, get out of town baby – ‘Fulani Coochie Man’ is back, in the guise of Adams bending notes like nobody’s business, while Camara belts out deep, gutsy, dusty-earthed blues. If you love the blues, you just may think that you must have died and gone to low-down heaven here! This track made me want to watch Adams and Camara in action again, especially as both times I’ve seen them recently - WOMAD at the Tower in Sept. and King’s Place in Oct., their sets were far too brief, though I suspect I might always feel that way when this pair performs!

‘Achu’ centres around Camara’s deeply grooved playing and tandem, expressive singing on a call and response duet with Mim Suleiman, with peppery percussive sounds, deep rooted backing singing and Adams reliable, refreshingly unpredictable guitar stylings. Suleiman has a lovely, wide ranging voice, and in conjunction with Camara’s fine but mellower timbre, their vocal coupling offers a very compelling listening experience. Adams is right on the money in the rhythmic sense on ‘Achu’, as his guitar work frames the song, allowing Camara and Suleiman’s vocals to meet, intertwine, go their own ways, before reconnecting above, over and under his playing, as Camara’s deceptively effortless sounding ritta similarly plays hide and seek with Adams’ guitar.

‘Madam Mariama’ is one of those songs which almost seems to enter your consciousness through your bloodstream, it’s so instantly addictive.  It jolts your senses, in a good way, so much so that you may find yourself subconsciously stashing it on to your playlist for the next time you find yourself in need of an Adams/Camara fix.  In addition to its totally infectious grooves and great vocals, one of the things that really marks this track out, is the way it allows room for Adams and Camara’s playing to rise to the surface just when you wish it would.  A super track on an equally super album! ‘Gainako’ offers achingly beautiful riti from Camara as he sings his heart out, accompanied by Mim Suleiman, who along with him, spreads emotions as though they were clear, sweet honey. This sublimely listenable track offers a delectable change of pace, as pleasingly breezy as a warm twilight stroll on a Cornish beach, for lack of more Saharan experiences! The vocals of Suleiman and Camara sound especially fine on this number, as does Camara’s riti playing and Adams’ generously restrained, but buoyant guitar work.

‘Nangu Sobeh’ ‘ delights with its’ undulating pace, Camara’s personable singing and Adams’ twangy interjections of earthiness, which he quickly morphs into punctuation rather than phrases as required in order to bring out the best in this expansive song. As soon as this number ended, I wanted to listen to it again. It’s a great piece of collaborative work, and I’m hoping to catch up to Adams and Camara again ASAP so I can hear what they do with it live.

The Latino influenced ‘Banjul Girl’ is great fun, with its bouncy cha-cha, foot-kicking beats and decidedly clipped, Afro-Latin vocals. Adams guitar offers some Tequila like riffs at the opening of the song signalling that it’s party time, so if we haven’t got up to dance yet, we’d best shake off the dust! ‘Chukaloy Dayoy’ features very intricate riti and vocals, with Camara and Suleiman seemingly making a statement with Adams backing up their intent, before enticing drums makes themselves known, inspiring spontaneous movement in those listening. This track makes for amiable grooving, even if you’re not moving, though I found it difficult to keep still while listening to it, especially when the vocals went up a notch and the song took a turn for the livelier.  Its’ deceptively light feeling, leads us, via Camara and his Suleiman’s smoothly entrancing singing to a clearing full of drum beats, generated by Salah Dawson Miller, creating a vibrant backdrop for Camara’s expressive riti playing and Adams stellar guitar work. But, typically for this ever-intriguing album, just when you’re thinking to yourself, ‘What a relaxing track,’ the pace picks up until you’re practically whirling with the intoxication of it all!

‘Futa Jalo’ makes a great, full-circled closing track, with its wisely advised opening statement from Camara, ‘Don’t forget where your grandfather came from, your roots...’, followed by fine, sparkling guitar from Adams and achingly beautiful vocals from Camara, in which he seems to speak to each and every one of us personally through his song, before a bevy of softly singing backing vocals materialise, as if in answer to a youthful dream. ‘Futa Jalo’ has a wonderfully warm, light-hearted feel which seems tailor-made for WOMAD 2010 Charlton Park summer sing-a-longing, longing being the operative word. ‘Let me cross the ocean,’ Camara states, seemingly to himself, as Adams tinkers with his guitar in the background and the track winds down. ‘They are hiding something there,’ Camara adds, with a chuckle.  Heady stuff, this Tell No Lies.  

Forget about champers, chocolates and bubble and squeak. Treat yourself to a copy of this album and celebrate life whenever you want to without hangover, guilt, or gas. Go on, you deserve it!





Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara albums Soul Science and Tell No Lies are available in all good record shops, including online at IRL shop.


Justin Adams -

Juldeh Camara -


Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara’s next London show – Roots at the Roundhouse - January 22, 2010, also features a host of other musicians, among them, Billy Bragg and the Acoustics.





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