25 October 2019

Latin-World-Rock Review: Santana-Africa Speaks

Release Date: June 7, 2019
Label: Starfaith, LLC

Santana is back at it, with their newest album Africa Speaks. This one features the incredible vocals of Buika, who helped co-write all songs on the album. Aside from the obvious rock genre, this album includes jazz, blues rock, and African roots. Everything about this album screams “take me to the Sahara.” If you’re a fan of Santana, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of the songs. For those who aren’t familiar with the band, don’t let the title throw you off. This album kicks ass.

The first track is called “Africa Speaks,” and it is an anthem. It starts with a spoken story, which is common in African culture. The bongo drums and chanted vocals are clearly what has given this album its African influence. Buika takes over with her otherworldly vocals. Something about the smooth transition between each note is mesmerizing. “Yo Me Lo Merezco” has a 70’s open road rock sound, like a Latin Woodstock sort of song.

There are also songs on the album that aren’t so heavy with African elements. “Blue Skies” starts as an easy-going song. It instills that hazy, looking up at the clouds feeling. Then after the four-minute mark, it pretty much just becomes instrumental. The guitar solo is great and all, but I think the song would have been more cohesive without it. “Breaking Down The Door” gives us more classic Santana vibes. There are more Latin sounds in this song with the horn section, smooth electric guitar, and Frenchy-accordion. These songs aren’t super “lyric-driven.” Most of the lyrics get lost under the instrumentals. It also doesn’t help that the Buika isn’t singing all the songs in her first language.

The album ends with “Candombe Cumbele,” which is another song with strong African elements. Buika’s vocals are incredibly rich and raw. You can tell that there is hardly any vocal processing on her cuts. The African influences are a cool idea for a rock album, and Santana nailed the concept. There’s something that draws the ear in when listening to music from a different culture. Santana brings a new flair and style to typical rock music. I think this album could even be liked by younger listeners. With all the remakes going on, I think that Disney needs to collaborate with Santana on a new Tarzan soundtrack. It would be a nice way to expose that younger audience to Santana’s music. That’s just something I would love to see happen, but who knows, Phil Collins might already have a claim to it. With Santana being such a well-known band, you might have already heard the album. Maybe you’re just here to hear someone else’s opinion, but in the off chance that this is news to you, go check out Africa Speaks. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Lily Clark – Berklee College of Music Intern
October 20, 2019


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Tracks:
01. Africa Speaks
02. Batonga
03. Oye Este Mi Canto
04. Yo Me Lo Merezco
05. Blue Skies
06. ParaĆ­sos Quemados
07. Breaking The Door Down
08. Los Invisibes
09. Luna Hechicera
10. Bembele
11. Candombe Cumbele

 

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