Guitar superman Carlos Santana had this Native American spiritual themed songs concept album in his imaginations for nearly two decades, but finally waited for the launch of his new Starfaith Record label to officially put this album together in tangible form. And it’s a very nice concept album well worth the wait of mostly instrumental songs that celebrate Native American spirits. Only one song on the album has vocals, and while none of the songs sound commercial enough to be released as singles, as a whole the package is very listenable with the excellent hypnotic guitar work of Carlos Santana in very fine form.
The guitar work of Carlos Santana can best be called soaring here, with a deeply felt spiritual feel that seems to soulfully capture the transcendental nature of spirits. This album has a lot of heart and a lot of soul as well.
This is the 36th album by Carlos Santana, and a markedly better album than the disappointing GUITAR HEAVEN album which seemed to miss the appeal of old guitar rock classics by miles last time out. Some songs such as his version of T.Rex’s “Bang A Gong(Get It On)” just entirely missed the original “T.Rex groove” sound that Marc Bolan inspired with his original version of the song. Marc Bolan wrote the song as sort of a tribute to Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” with highly sexualized lyrics and Bolan’s best sexy voice along with the contagious “T.Rex groove” guitar signature that was his own. Carlos Santana just didn’t seem to get it, and totally missed that feel in this song. But SHAPE SHIFTER is so much better than all of the short comings of GUITAR HEAVEN, where you should forget that album and embrace this new one instead as the real Carlos Santana back in full guitar glory.
If any fault can be found with SHAPE SHIFTER, it’s that the album lacks a commercial feel and likely won’t be the biggest seller ever by Carlos Santana. Further, not a single song sounds like it could be pulled as a single either, although at least one song should emerge as a single here. But, none of this is really bad here. SHAPE SHIFTER is a perfectly nice, highly spiritual flight. It’s more than fine just the way it is.
The Bottom Line: A very fine return to form from guitar superman Carlos Santana, that more than makes up for his GUITAR HEAVEN fiasco. ***(Three Stars Good. Buy this album and enjoy it!)