It has been Justin Adams' year. Having captured the Malian band Tinariwen's wiry, mercurial sound perfectly on their third and best album Aman Iman: Water is Life, the sometime Robert Plant guitarist then grabbed his own instrument and collaborated with Gambian riti player Juldeh Camara to produce Soul Science. On this the cultural crossover of the year Adams somehow manages to have his cake and eat it, by churning out versions of his favourite old rock riffs (from Bo Diddley through to Beefheart) but still ending up with something fresh and eclectic.
Staying with the African vibe, I was cheekily calling Segu Blue by Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba the African album of the year back in January. But it would hardly take a genius or even a gifted clairvoyant to have predicted that this sublime meeting of the warm, sweet voice of Amy Sacko (Bassekou's wife) backed by the intricate interplay of four rollin' ngonis, would blow away all the competition by sounding, simultaneously, as fresh as a daisy and as old as Malian culture itself.
Closer to home, London-based Spanish band LaXula's In X-ile is a haunting, powerful album which blends flamenco flourish with brooding, understated menace. Finally, also from London, SaltPeter's Hunger's the Best Sauce is Lily Allen for adults. Its poised pop is by turns Carry on Camping vulgar, sexually outrageous and heartbreakingly confessional.Reuse content