Tell No Lies

Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara

Released 10 May 2009

  1. Sahara
  2. Tonio Yima
  3. Kele Kele
  4. Fulani Coochie Man
  5. Achu
  6. Madam Mariama
  7. Gainako
  8. Nangu Sobeh
  9. Banjul Girl
  10. Chukaloy Dayoy
  11. Futa Jalo

Liner notes

Tell No Lies is the new sound of Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara.  The sound of a nation with no borders, a place that needs no passport, no visa. This is where the deep roots of African music nourish the raw electric groove of rock and roll, where Gnawa spirit rhythms come up against Chicago distortion, where snaky New Orleans rhythm has a West London howl, and a Sahel Wail.

Juldeh Camara is an African Master Musician, taught to play by his blind father, who himself was taught directly by the djinn. Playing the ritti, a one-stringed fiddle and West African ancestor of the violin, he participated as a griot (a West African poet, praise singer and repository of oral tradition) in traditional Fula society. Juldeh has the drive and effortless flow of a great Bluesman. While his instrument brings to mind Delta players like Big Joe Williams, as well as Ali Farka Touré, there is a lilt in his playing that hints at the ancient links between North Africa and the Celtic World. He describes magical shapes on his ritti; one minute it’s Blues harp, the next a Celtic fiddle, then a Saharan herdsman’s flute. It is hard to believe all this emotion, range and flexibility comes from just one string.

Photo credit: York Tillyer

Justin Adams has been at the cutting edge of world music alchemy since the 1990’s with Jah Wobble, Robert Plant (Adams co-wrote The Mighty Rearranger), Natacha Atlas, The Festival of the Desert, Tinariwen (producing their first and third albums), LO’JO. Taking influences from African, Arabic and Irish traditions as well as rock and roll and the Blues, his distinctive, driving guitar style is the missing link between Bo Diddley and Munir Bashir. With Tell No Lies, Adams delves deeper into the African origins of black American music, following the roots of New Orleans and Mississippi soul right back to the Songhai, Fulani and Toureg peoples of West Africa.

“My original love when I was young was The Clash and dub reggae,” says Justin. “I like to keep things raw and swinging —so it never gets too pristine or too sweet.  I love listening to cassettes of Moroccan music and Algerian music. I like trancey, circular rhythms and voices that are in between pleasure and pain, where it’s bittersweet.”

Madam Mariama (live at WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2009)

Justin and Juldeh have been playing together for two years, following the release of the critically acclaimed Soul Science in 2007 (winner of the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award in the Crossing Continents category), touring at festivals in Siberia, Mexico City, Morrocco and WOMAD. The touring experience has clearly brought them closer together as musicians and added to the unique nature of their musical style. “At certain soundchecks I’d start playing something and Juldeh would rush over and say ‘…keep playing that! We’ve got to play that tonight!’ Juldeh would record things on his mobile phone— so that’s they way we came up with a lot of material,” explains Justin. Over time the two musicians have naturally fused their styles and begun to create a musical language of their own, where it becomes difficult to see if Justin is becoming more African or Juldeh more Western.

The reference points for this release are recordings from the 1950s by the likes of Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. To achieve the rawness and slight distortion meant a live feel was important. “The way we’ve gone for that is to record in a very live way in The Wood Room at Real World Studios. You’ll hear the sweat and blood of the live performance, and all the scratchy bits!” enthuses Justin.  He is also interested in modern RnB and the heavy bottom-end of current pop music, so naturally Tell No Lies lies somewhere in between —the drive and powerful energy of the old records with something new as well.

Justin and Juldeh are joined by Salah Dawson Miller, a veteran of North African percussion who has played with an extraordinary array of artists including Phillip Glass, The Drifters, Dr. John, 3 Mustaphas 3 and Jah Wobble, and who studied in Algeria, Morocco, Cuba and Brazil.


  • Justin Adams is probably the most influential catalyst of African-Western musical crossovers of the last couple of decades…. The Independent
  • Exhilarating and Enthusiastic ...the interplay between the two sounds almost effortless as they switch from slinky Bo Diddley-style riffs to rolling blues with an African edge, and quieter trance-like songs. Magnificent. The Guardian (UK)
  • This is an extraordinary album...picks up where Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley left off and leads us deep into their roots MOJO (UK)
  • What is amazing in this pairing is the raw spontaneity from Camara, both on vocals and on the one-string violin called the riti. From West Africa to the cities of the United States, to the U.K. and back to the West African source, Adams and Camara, like Vieux Farka Toure, are helping to tighten a big circle of history and music. It's a process that has been going on for a long time, but it has never come so easily. NPR Music (USA)
  • The stars of the show are still Adams' growling, earthy guitar and Camara's soaring ritti (single string fiddle)...Highly impressive stuff. Songlines (UK)
  • The deepest trance-blues this side of Timbuktu. Tougher, louder, edgier and more elemental than ever Uncut (UK)


Further Listening

  • République Amazone

    Les Amazones d’Afrique

    Released 10 March 2017

    Les Amazones d'Afrique are an all-female collective of west African musicians campaigning for gender equality. They have been described as a supergroup, and the characterisation seems apt. Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Mariam Doumbia, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Mouneissa Tandina, Nneka, Pamela Badjogo and Rokia Koné hold a strong pedigree.
  • In Trance

    Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara

    Released 12 June 2011

    Recorded live at Real World Studios to capture the spirit of JuJu's ecstatic, trance-like performances on stage— channelling hypnotic rhythms from traditional Africa, leftfield jazz and the wilder end of rock and showcasing the unique strengths of new band members Dave Smith and Billy Fuller.

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