Justin Adams,
Desert Road
(self-produced, 2000;
World Village, 2002)

Desert Road is the accumulation of experience of journeying and playing by renowned blues guitarist Justin Adams. Twenty years of playing in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, after growing up in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, bring the strength of character required for such a definitive album.

Adams shows his diverse skills playing a variety of guitars, plus the n'goni, -- an ancient African predecessor to the banjo, which has been played for 4,000 years, as witnessed by artwork depicting it in Egyptian tombs -- and other traditional stringed and percussive instruments. He also sings with a voice somewhat reminiscent of Chris Rea -- low pitched, gravel over honey. He has elsewhere been described as "Britain's answer to Ry Cooder" and is a formidable talent.

This CD seems to have been something of a journey into Self for Adams, who reportedly retreated into his home studio in his bedroom for three weeks and emerged with Desert Road. The use of traditional African and Middle Eastern instruments makes this a blues album with a difference, and they add to the prevailing atmosphere of imagined harsh sun, whipping winds and the eerily demanding beauty of the desert. This is blues for the nomads, the global travellers, providing the ears with an oasis of unforgettable sound which mirrors the arid roads across the continental deserts and the vast expanses of unforgiving sand. The unique sound and primitive beat of the percussion melds together with the exquisite imagery of fine guitar work, forming a mirage that has an intangible quality to it.

If this is world blues, I like it. I hope Justin Adams finds himself at a loose end soon, if this is the quality he offers when he has nothing in his diary for a couple of weeks!

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 18 January 2003

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