Album Review: Santana - Shape Shifter

1 July 2012 | 7:57 pm | Sebastian Skeet

Santana goes back to his roots by letting his guitar do the talking while sparing us from the guest singers.

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If you are a fan of Santana's more recent commercial success, then you may be surprised by this instrumental affair. The theme behind the long solos and mystical sojourns is a quasi-spiritual journey between mankind and the Earth. This ideal is extended to the rights of the native people of America who Santana is obviously inspired by. The ideal is credible, but the result is rather depressing.

Some of the song titles sound like new-age mantras. The Light Of A New Day is so mellow it's lost in its own blanket of keyboard sounds. Spark Of The Divine is where new-age meets soft rock and is strangely engaging considering the clichés it embraces. There is a hint of the old Santana we love on Macumba In Budapest, where the rhythms get interesting and suit his Latin style.

The more interesting moments do involve native singing on Eres La Luz, which features Spanish singers, and there are some Native American chanting moments that set up the album. For the first time since those recent commercial albums, including the rock guitar album released last year, Santana goes back to his roots by letting his guitar do the talking while sparing us from the guest singers. On Angelica Faith, you get to hear the classic guitar sound of Santana and it is possibly the most commercial song on the album. Apart from the new-age leanings, it's good once again to hear Santana playing the guitar and enjoying it.