First things first: Nightbird is easily one of the most conceptually inspired albums to come along in quite some time.

First things first: Nightbird is easily one of the most conceptually inspired albums to come along in quite some time. James has taken his bluesy songs and his dusky voice to Mali, where he tracked this album with several outstanding Malian musicians, including Mama Sissoko (guitar), Hamma Sankare (calabash), Hassi Sare (njarka), and Solo Sidibe (kamele n'goni). Wassoulou vocalist Jeneba Diakite and American blues singer Sarah Baker also make their presence felt on several tracks. The music James created for this CD is as sparse and expansive as Mali itself. "Child See the Rider," "Rain," "Pharoah's Daughter," "Nightbird"—each of these tunes is the most fascinating combination of intense groove and minimal arrangement. He gets a world of feeling from his voice, a guitar, and a one-stringed violin (Sare's njarka). Nightbird is one of the deepest listening experiences that will hit the U.S. market this year. Distributed in the U.S. by Musik International.—PVV

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