What does it sound like?:
I am loathe to even mention the words ‘return to form’ because in my mind his last couple of albums have been up there with the better stuff from his canon of work. Where do I place this? Right at the pinnacle – as good as if not better than Abraxas which is my favourite Santana album. Firstly his guitar playing is to the fore throughout, there is lots of it and it has not sounded better to these ears. The title ‘Africa speaks’ is a trifle misleading as it intimates an African vibe. The truth is this is Latin music at its core with some African influences and very few Western influences. A centerpiece of the album is the longest track Blue Skies – clocking in just over 9 minutes. It has a co write With Laura Mvula who shares vocals with Spanish singer Buika. It starts off in a Coltrane vein and then extends out into some beautiful guitar playing by Carlos. I really like the female vocals, they add a sassiness. The album really ups a gear with two back to back gems Breaking Down the door and Los Invisibles. The first of these would have had me dancing like a loon had it not been for the fact that I was driving- I played it 4 times on the trot – it is as addictive as crack but less harmful to your well being.
Here it is – you judge for yourself:
I think you can tell I love this album from start to finish – no missteps, no filler.
What does it all *mean*?
Rick Ruben produced – he has some ability together the best out people who have been around a long time by taking them a magic ride. Fair play to him – he deserves some credit for this.
Goes well with…
Blue Skies, cocktails, female company – there is a big female influence on this album and Buika makes a significant contribution.
Might suit people who like…
Santana obviously. Los Invisibles is a rewrite of a Steve Hillage/Rachid Taha song so those too and Manu Chao contributes elsewhere. Do we class this as World music? Most certainly but don’t let that detervyou it is excellent. Go out and buy it now!!