Santana - Shape Shifter

by Kevin Wierzbicki

This first release on Santana's own Starfaith Records contains many fine moments but some fans may find the mostly instrumental set a bit too introspective for their tastes. Fans of the guitarist's early prog rock sound will dig the Native American-flavored title cut and "Nomad," another First Peoples-influenced song that carries a dynamic that makes it sound like a musical war cry or perhaps something equally urgent like music to hunt buffalo by. The Native American theme pretty much ends there but the guitarist melds his familiar Latin sounds with European melodies for "Macumba in Budapest" and "Mr. Szabo," a showy acoustic homage to the late Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo whom Santana has previously honored by turning Szabo's "Gypsy Queen" into a hit. Much of the rest of the album however is a bit snoozy and this may have something to do with the fact that there's only one song with vocals and therefore only one song that demands that the listener pay attention. Certainly Santana's musical prowess is not in question here; he absolutely shines throughout but he does so mostly while in a soporific mood. Instrumental songs tend to let people's minds go wherever they want to go and in the case of Shape Shifter, and I mean this in a nice way, many of those minds will go straight to sleep.

Santana - Shape Shifter

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