World music for rock music fans, and vice versa

As any fan of, say, late-period Bob Dylan could tell you, being unable to understand the lyrics to a song need not be an impediment to enjoying it. For additional proof of that maxim, look no further than Soul Science, a collaboration between British and Gambian musicians that demonstrates that a catchy hook is a catchy hook no matter what language it’s sung in or which instrument it’s played on.

In his native England, Justin Adams is widely considered that country’s answer to Ry Cooder; Gambian singer Juldeh Camara is a master of a one-stringed violin called the ritti. Put together, their talents blend as seamlessly as any musical mashup: Several tracks on Soul Science begin with Adams’s traditional blues-rock riffs, but when they’re joined by Camara’s piercing voice and frenzied ritti, the transcendent harmonies that result are powerful enough to send your ears around the globe in four minutes or less.

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