Carlos Santana’s guitar tone and sustain-powered solos are instantly recognizable and, with a few exceptions, the musical composition remains pretty regular if not formulaic. That said, Santana always finds ways to make his songs stand out.
On Shape Shifter, two things in particular require notice: the Native American drumming and chanting intro on the opening track, and the fact that all but the album’s final cut are instrumental. Presenting an album of instrumentals harkens back to Santana’s ‘60s roots when long soaring jams, powerful Latin-style grooves and bottomless solos were the norm.
It’s nice to hear Santana shredding again while challenging himself to new heights. Some of the tracks date back more than 12 years—tunes he’s stashed away for just such an outing, and a pair feature son Salvador Santana on piano. Again, Santana’s being Santana, and as always, it’s a beautiful thing. —Glenn BurnSilver
(This article appears online at Relix Magazine.)