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Review: Santana – Africa Speaks

Artist: Santana
Album: Africa Speaks
Reviewer: Andrew Treadwell

For more than 50 years, Santana has sold over 100 million records and has performed for three generations of concert fans worldwide. To date, Santana has won 10 GRAMMY Awards and three Latin Grammys. He won a record-tying nine Grammys for a single project for 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”) as well as three Latin Grammys. He has also received the Billboard Century Award (1996), was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1998), received the Billboard Latin Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement honor (2009), and was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors Award (2013). Among many other honors, Carlos Santana has been cited by Rolling Stone as #15 on their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”  

Santana is releasing his new album, Africa Speaks, on June 7 via Concord Records / Caroline Australia.2 019 marks the 20th anniversary of Carlos Santana’s groundbreaking album Supernatural and the 50th anniversary of his legendary performance at Woodstock. Santana will celebrate these milestones with an energy-infused tour highlighting hits from Supernatural as well as many others from his long list of greatest hits.

He’s teamed up with Spanish singer Buika hat Carlos exclaims “She’s got Nina Simone, Etta James, Tina Turner and Aretha all rolled into one. You are going to be blown away when you hear her.” Carlos is joined by his wife Cindy Blackman Santana on drums,  and Laura Mvula on the song Blue Skies. The album was produced by the legendary Rick Rubin.

Africa Speaks was recorded at Rick Rubin’s Shangri La Studios in Malibu to record the new album. They spent ten days recorded 49 tracks which itself is a huge feat to produce such unbridled passion and magic in the tracks. Those 49 tracks were whittled down to the 11th on the album.

Of course Santana is known for his guitar prowess, and this album is filled with timeless, classic riffs, fulled with emotion and energy. The opening and title track, begins with spoken word , and then transcends into Carlos’ guitar and the vocals flowing between each other. It is like the opening scene of an epic movie.

The African elements shine in songs like “Candombe Cumbele” and “Bembele”, where as the marriage of African and Latino are perfect in a track like “Yo Me Lo Merezco” . You would think the two styles could not be more polar opposite, but strange as it may seem, they make perfect sense together. “Bembele” ,  “Oy Este Mi Canto” and “Los Invisibles” are showcases for Santana’s heritage and style but also his flair for rhythm and the soul of the music.

Ray Greene and Andy Vargas who both work with Santana in his current line up are heard throughout the album and pair off brilliantly with Buika throughout.

This album feels like Santana not just branching out into new rhythms and sounds but also coming back home to where it all started some 50 years ago.

Hear2Zen Magazine
Hear2Zen is a "Non Genre Specific" publication that celebrates all things sensory.

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