• L.A. Salami


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Benedikt Zillich


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Lookman Adekunle Salami’s third album opens with the title track, an ambitious 10-minute rollercoaster of a song that peaks and dips and swerves and takes the listener’s breath away. It’s the foundation stone on which The Cause of Doubt & A Reason to Have Faith is built, a song that marks a renaissance in Lookman’s own life after a period of personal turbulence and, as is often the case with L.A. Salami, it asks big questions about where we are in the world right now, posed with philosophical wonder, with candor, with humour and with plenty of humanity. This isn’t the music of a virtuoso: it’s explorative, daring, meditative and sometimes wild. For the first time, Lookman has embraced the world of multi-tracking, though the record still retains a raw energy and an integrity. Often it feels like anything can happen and that it probably will. “That’s what I was going for!” says Lookman, sipping neat whiskey out of a tumbler in a Shoreditch bar as he contemplates this great new edition to his body of work. “I listen to a lot of polished music out there… I get it, but that’s not my style. I’m not a good enough musician to be like that for a start! I like the idea of thoughtfully putting music together, but I also like the honesty of things almost falling apart.” London-born Lookman spent years in foster care when he was growing up, and would put headphones on at night to listen to storytellers like Bob Dylan as a means of escape and as a voyage of discovery. He couldn’t afford to buy a guitar for himself until he was 21, which has perhaps informed his poetic, peripatetic, troubadour style. He subsumes the blues and rock and roll on The Cause of Doubt & A Reason to Have Faith, but thanks to his musical autodidacticism, he takes the songs to places new, throwing in influences from the worlds of hip-hop, ambient dance and unvarnished English folk along the way. It’s a glorious mishmash of styles that carries the inimitable Salamian stamp. Lookman might be sui generis, but that hasn’t stopped others trying to reproduce his style. In America, where his music has been received enthusiastically, a legendary jazz recording company appeared to be courting him for a licensing deal, with A&Rs from the label attending up to six of his shows Stateside. The singer / songwriter was understandably flattered, but what transpired was unexpected even for an industry as venal and lacking in transparency as the music business. In a move that reflected the most cynical maneuverings of record executives, the label instead signed an American artist who seemed to assume the mannerisms and the distilled essence of L.A. Salami, with a moniker complete with two initials proceeding a three-syllable surname.