Carlos Santana - Shape Shifter – Album Review
By Alex Young
He’s the musical maverick that crafted classic albums like “Abraxas”; he sonically shaped chart-topping hits like “Black Magic Woman” along with “Oye Como Va”, and influenced three generations of musicians around the globe. After selling over 100 million albums, winning ten Grammy’s, and scoring a top ten single every decade since the 60’s, Carlos Santana remains respected as one of the most renowned guitarists in the world. “Shape Shifter” is the first album to be released on his new record label Starfaith Records as he continues to blaze a musical trail that’s entirely his own.
“Shape Shifter” draws many influences from Native American musical routes, containing the call of an eagle on the opening self-titled track, over top of traditional tribal chanting. “Shape Shifter” places a large focus on atmosphere, ambience and exploring sonic landscapes rather than chasing after hit singles, which provides ample opportunity to let Santana’s instrumental abilities shine. Once again Santana teams up with all-star drum prodigy Dennis Chambers, who continues to understand the constantly shifting dynamics within each track to lend its own individual audio personality. The avalanche of sound-waves on “Nomad” serves the title of the tune appropriately and contains all the signature elements of a Santana song, including searing guitar solos, barreling percussive beats and tender piano passages. Overall, the album proves to be one of Santana’s most ambitious efforts among his modern albums since the release of his hit record “Supernatural”.
Whenever Santana releases a new album, regardless of how defiantly unique it may be in the garden of sounds contained within his catalogue, it’s continually impressive to hear him bloom as a musician. “Shape Shifter” also provides Santana with the opportunity to place a strong focus on the band itself, by creating an entirely instrumental album. After hearing the sonic diversity of the tracks on his latest release, the tour for “Shape Shifter” should be no exception to his previous efforts. “Shape Shifter” is available in stores and online May 15th.