The unexpected trio of England's James Yorkston and Jon Thorne and India's Suhail Yusuf Khan continues to bear fruit on Neuk Wight Dehli All-Stars, the follow-up to their inspired 2016 debut Everything Sacred. Arriving barely a year after their debut, this set feels like a logical sequel in both concept and execution, but with the added bonus of more time spent together deepening their collaboration. The group's Spartan mix of acoustic guitar (Yorkston), double bass (Thorne), and sarangi (Khan) continues to explore every pocket of nuance as they skillfully marry bits of U.K. folk, jazz, and Indian classical music with their own original compositions. Having sown the seeds on Everything Sacred, All-Stars finds the three friends supporting one another in new ways with the increased presence of Thorne as a vocalist and occasional pianist and guitarist. With Yorkston's prowess as a singer/songwriter having long been hailed in Britain and Khan's recognized mastery of sarangi and voice a proper show-stealer, Thorne's contributions felt a bit unsung on the band's first volume, but his beautifully understated album closer, "One More Day (Jon's Song)," is one of the album's easy standouts. For his part, Yorkston contributes a handful of top-shelf originals like the haunted "Bales" and the tenderly meditative seven-minute "The Blues You Sang," both of which are greatly enhanced by Khan and Thorne's gentle treatments. With his tandemly soaring vocals and sarangi work, Khan remains the virtuoso in the group, adding foudroyant bursts of color and flair without ever overplaying or stepping on his partners. Still, the allure of this trio is their combined hive mind of musicianship and cultural history, which allows such a curious track as "Samant Saarang/Just a Bloke" to exist. The dovetailing of a traditional Indian melody deftly arranged by Khan and Yorkston overlaying Thorne's reading of Roger Eno's drolly English "You're Just a Bloke" is the kind of offering that makes this collaboration so unique.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger