Latin-rock/pop/jazz fusion/blues-rock guitarist Carlos Santana’s new album, Blessings And Miracles, has already received a flood of reviews, ranging from cult-like adoration to lackluster.
Santana’s celebrated career in music revolves around his mystical, dazzling ability on his guitar, beginning with 1969’s self-titled album, followed by the elysian Abraxas, released in 1970. Other excellent albums followed, including 1972’s Caravanserai, and Moonflower. 1992’s Milagro fell flat yet proved to be a cusp of transition. For in 1992, he released Supernatural, which went platinum fifteen times. The key was collaborating with an assortment of vocalists.
Blessings And Miracles sees Santana returning to collaborations, including Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, Chick Corea, Chris Stapleton, Steve Winwood, Corey Glover, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, G-Eazy, and Death Angel’s Mark Osegueda.
Encompassing 15-tracks, Blessings And Miracles features a handful of worthwhile songs, as well as some that are little more than sonic stuffing. “Santana Celebration” delivers stellar flavors of Latin jam reminiscent of Abraxas. Whereas “Move,” with Rob Thomas’ deluxe voice, growls and gyrates with infectious energy. Still, its resemblance to Supernatural’s “Smooth” is undeniable, giving it a derivative feel.
Santana’s Latin-laced cover of Procul Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” allows Steve Winwood to strut his distinctive and superb vocals. However, one wonders if the rendition really needs Santana’s guitar licks to make it work. “Break,” a slow, sensuous tune, showcases the luscious voice of Ally Brooke, giving the song silky-smooth timbres.
Sadly, “She’s Fire,” a synthesis of “Maria Maria” and “Put Your Lights On” is average. While “Peace Power,” one of the best tracks on the album, hangs on the snarling voice of Corey Glover, who injects the tune with bravura surly textures.
The gentle, shimmering flow of “Breathing Underwater,” suffused with savors of Latin hip-hop and dream-pop, ripples with wistful, luminous riffs and the lush voice of Stella Santana. “Mother Yes” rolls out on a fierce rhythm topped by Hendrix-esque vocals. Indeed, most listeners will be surprised to learn this is not an unknown recording of Hendrix.
Another triumphant song, the instrumental “Song For Cindy,” lets Carlos Santana do what he does best – hypnotize listeners with his magical guitar, displaying his use of sound and space with pure grace and elegance.
Blessings And Miracles wanders too much, which results in a loss of cohesiveness. In other cases, such as “Joy,” the merging of country vocals with Latin music simply collapses. The album loses relevance amid so many different vocalists.