I have to say that it isn’t every day that you have the opportunity of reviewing a full album of new songs released by a living legend, an iconic 1969 Woodstock’s Festival remnant, like Carlos Santana. That fact by itself can be compared to a miracle or blessing, as well as his new album’s title Blessings and Miracles, out on October 15th. Santana has a mystic aura around himself, allowing him not only to persevere and last for five decades or more, but continue to promote his music through partnerships, special guests, and more.
Those who follow Santana on social media are acquainted with his positivism and divine gratitude that permeates his messages. In fact, it mixes up other dimensions like spirituality and human interaction, as a way to materialize his beliefs and philosophy into a tangible and sensitive thing, the music. And, one more time, Santana comes with plenty of guests (or soul mates, I think he would say) to help him to pass through his musical messages.
Blessings and Miracles has 15 tracks, including “Ghost Of The Future”, an interlude that serves as a welcoming and farewell jam, first preparing the listener for the main content and finally trying to keep the songs as an everlasting continuum. “Santana Celebration” summarizes Santana’s soul, his Latin blood inlaid meshed with rock. The track features traditional elements of Santana’s music like Hammond, bongo and conga drums, as well as his unmistakable distorted guitar solos. “Rumbalero”, featuring Santana’s son Salvador Santana and Asdru Sierra, keeps the previous vibe but adding modern elements like a synthesizer.
As proof of Santana’s “mystical reunion power”, he joins forces with country music star Chris Stapleton to record “Joy”. It’s a blues reggae that Santana garnishes with his signed minor melodic scales. Being a strong candidate to follow the multi-award-winning hit “Smooth”, Rob Thomas, Zac Barnett & American Authors join Santana to deliver “Move”. It keeps the same successful formula, an inviting dance song with a vibrant chorus and magnificent guitar solos that perfectly fits between the vocals.
Rekindling an old friendship with the versatile Steve Winwood on vocals, Santana decided to make his own version of the Procol Harum’s classic “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. The result? It’s difficult to translate it into words, but definitely, they polish an old jewel restoring its shine. The track “Break” is indeed a prayer. I think Santana tried to demonstrate all his devotion and religiosity picking Ally Brooke to soulfully sing such sacred lyrics. “She’s Fire”, featuring Diane Warren and the rapper G-Eazy, is plainly a hip-hop song that Santana adds his Latin spice, turning it into a calm ballad.
Among all the eclecticism of the songs so far, we can say that Blessings and Miracles has a hard rock session. The first song in this session is “Peace Power”, featured by the Living Colour’s talent Corey Glover. With guitars and drums still more aggressive “America for Sale” is an arraignment anthem that counts with the heavy metal aces Kirk Hammett (Metallica) on guitars and Mark Osegueda (Death Angels) on vocals. “Mother Yes”, better classified as classic rock can also be part of this session. The mood turns quite tender on “Breathing Underwater,” which features Santana’s daughter Stella Santana as vocalist and songwriter. Another guest in this song is the eclectic Avi Snow, complementing the vocals.
With a romantic air, “Song for Cindy”, Santana exhales all his emotions through his guitar playing, honoring his current spouse, the jazz drummer and percussionist Cindy Blackman. Jazz is one genre also represented in the album by the song “Angel Choir/All Together”. This song brings as special guests the former Mahavishnu Orchestra member Gayle Moran Corea, as well as the recently deceased piano jazz legend Chick Corea.
Santana’s career is so extensive and productive that it wouldn’t make sense trying to pinpoint a single album or a single song to represent his music. And Blessings and Miracles comes in that way. Santana pushes the borders of music in general, mixing genres and delivering messages that are important to him.
The Review: 9.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Santana Celebration
– Rumbalero (featuring Salvador Santana & Asdru Sierra)
– Joy (Carlos Santana & Chris Stapleton)
– Move (Carlos Santana, Rob Thomas, Zac Barnett & American Authors)
– A Whiter Shade of Pale (featuring Steve Winwood)
– Angel Choir (featuring Gayle Moran Corea) / All Together (featuring Chick Corea)
The Big Hit
– Joy (Carlos Santana & Chris Stapleton)