Sound — 6
Guitar virtuoso Santana made headlines following the announcement that he was taking a new approach while creating his new studio album, "Corazon." The iconic musician was departing from his Latin-flavored rock sound which most recently coated such recent releases as "Shape Shifter" and the classic rock covers album "Guitar Heaven," and instead was redirecting his attention towards his predominantly Latin American roots. While doing so, Santana began actively recruiting an all-star cast of artists indigenous to the culture, forming what appeared to be a promising venture for both dedicated listeners and a whole different audience altogether.
The end product which ultimately appears throughout Santana's twenty-second studio effort is a compilation of well formulated, radio-friendly Latino pop which often times ends up sounding somewhat bizarre. Any familiar listener would understandably anticipate a moderate focus towards Santana's definitive guitar work, however throughout the majority of these new recordings the guitar work is set on the back burners, while the main focus is placed towards repetitive choruses and brass melodies. Songs such as "Mal Bicho" and "Margarita" are strong examples of this sound, neither of which sound as though Santana is appearing on them, and instead could easily blend within any Latin American radio rotation.
Santana's unique sound is heavily repressed throughout this new effort, lost behind cascades of bland harmonies, which ultimately abandons the same signature qualities which previously made his work at least subconsciously familiar, if not instantly identifiable. This is especially true on "Oye 2014," a new take on Santana's original cover of "Oye Como Va" from 1970's "Abraxas," which is heavily diminished by a bizarre rap performance from Pitbull. While the album does have it's share of moderately palatable moments, such as a solid collaboration with Ziggy Marley on a song originally penned by his father, "Iron Lion Zion," the end result fails to capture any worthwhile substance.
Lyrics — 5
We find Santana joined by a cast of well known Latin American artists who each take their own turns at lead vocals throughout this new effort. Having a revolving door of different singers appear on one studio album is a method which the guitarist has taken several times throughout the past decade, and has been successful for him in the past. Whether it's Miguel who appears on "Indy," Gloria Estefan on "Beijo de Longe," or Romeo Santos on the previously mentioned "Margarita," the roster is enough to appeal to those listeners who passionately enjoy this collection of Latin pop music. However, most dedicated listeners would cringe at the lack of depth found throughout the album's almost neutral toned vocal melodies and repetitive lyrical content.
Overall Impression — 6
Despite a handful of noticeable recordings and a cargo load of diminished anticipation, the outcome which appears on Santana's new studio album "Corazon" falls short of any preset expectations, especially when you take in account his standards. The initial news that Santana was revisiting his roots was intriguing, however considering the album's pop-driven outcome it leaves the listener puzzled as to where Santana was hoping to proceed with this effort.