Review : Santana - Shape Shifter
PopmattersCarlos Santana remains an anomaly among the pantheon of classic rock guitar gods he so eminently occupies (and not only because he owns a brand of women’s shoes and an established Mexican restaurant chain). Unlike Page, Clapton or Iommi, Santana never exactly had solid songs or a solid band (for all intents and purposes, Santana is a solo moniker) there to buttress his axe-wielding, however innovative and technically flawless it might be on its own. Even the Santana records that are today regarded as classics feel a little insufficient for the particular reason that, as a composer, Santana has never quite had it going on, which may explain why his largest successes over the years have been either collaborations with other, more pop-minded artists, or rearranged cover versions of songs somebody else has written.
Unfortunately for Santana, these aforementioned collaborations have alienated longtime fans of his more serious work. Collaborators include interminably infuriating jokes like… Chad Kroeger (gag!), Rob Thomas (barf!), Chris Daughtry (make it stop!), Scott Stapp (the pain!), Steve Tyler (this is torture!)—and the list, rather regrettably, goes on for miles. It seems fair to assume that his latest effort—Shape Shifter, which Santana has produced and composed entirely, in addition to having self-released on his upstart label Starfaith—is an attempt to break away from the negative reputation he has since earned....full text
IndependentWhile applauding Carlos Santana's dedication of Shape Shifter to native peoples everywhere, it might have been hoped that the album itself were more impressive.
He remains capable of bursts of quite dazzling prestidigitation, as with the guitar flurries that grace tracks such as “Nomad” and “In the Light of a New Day”; but he seems to have stopped listening to new music, which leaves Shape Shifter mired in tired old styles And why the lack of vocals? The sole time his singers get involved, on “Eres la Luz”, they add a kick that catalyses the whole band....full text
BluesrockreviewSantana is back, and this time he’s almost all instrumental. He’s created his own record label, and for its first release, he’s done something a little different. In Shape Shifter, his latest studio record, he mostly sheds the weight of lyrics to allow his music to speak for itself.
It’s always fascinating to see what music can say without using any words at all. In this instance, Santana uses modern instrumental rock to explore Native American beliefs and to show us how connected we are with the world and each other.
His huge, sweeping soundscapes paint the image of past tragedies while his mastery of the electric guitar manifests itself in gigantic riffs that revel in the majesty and joy of life in the present.
A wide range of musical styles are covered, from native chants in the title track to classic stadium rock in “Nomad” all the way to the very spicy salsa-influenced track “Macumba in Budapest.”...full text
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