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Santana Africa Speaks album cover
3.47 | 40 ratings | 1 reviews | 2% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Africa Speaks (4:47)
2. Batonga (5:43)
3. Oye Este Mi Canto (5:58)
4. Yo Me Lo Merezco (6:12)
5. Blue Skies (9:08)
6. Paraisos Quemados (5:59)
7. Breaking Down the Door (4:30)
8. Los Invisibles (5:54)
9. Luna Hechicera (4:47)
10. Bambele (5:51)
11. Candombe Cumbele (5:36)

Total Time 64:25

Bonus Tracks on SE 2019 CD:
12. Mientras Tanto (5:57)
13. Dios Bendiga Tu Interior (5:19)

Line-up / Musicians

- Carlos Santana / lead & rhythm guitars, percussion, narrator, backing vocals, arranger
- Tommy Anthony / rhythm guitar
- David K. Mathews / Hammond B3, keyboards
- Ray Green / trombone, backing vocals
- Benny Rietveld / bass
- Cindy Blackman Santana / drums
- Karl Perazzo / congas, percussion, timbales
- Andy Vargas / backing vocals

- Marķa Buika / lead vocals
- Laura Mvula / vocals (5)
- Salvador Santana / keyboards (7) - not confirmed

Releases information

Artwork: Heather Griffin-Vine

CD Concord Records ‎- 00888072090842 (2019, Europe)
CD Concord Records ‎- CRE00996 (2019, US) SE with 2 bonus tracks

LPx2 Concord Records ‎- 00888072090859 (2019, Europe)

Thanks to TCat for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SANTANA Africa Speaks ratings distribution

(40 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(2%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

SANTANA Africa Speaks reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Carlos Santana promised a full album this year after he released his EP "In Search of Mona Lisa earlier this year. That EP acts as a preamble to his 25th studio album released in June of 2019 "Africa Speaks". Santana was asked by Rick Rubin, the album's producer, who he wanted to be involved on this album since several of his most recent albums had quite an array of guests, but he said he only wanted "?two women: Laura Mvula and Buika. And he said OK. So we called them and they said yes."

The album is also mostly inspired by music from Africa, much of it recorded in one take. Over the course of 10 days, 49 songs were recorded. A total of 11 were chosen and placed on the album with 2 more added as bonus tracks on the copies bought at Target. The regular album spans a total run time of over 64 minutes. The vocals on this album are mostly in African languages, English and Spanish.

Right from beginning with the title track "Africa Speaks", it is evident that this is different from many of his past albums, that it is definitely inspired from African musical influences mixed with the Latin/Rock flair of Santana. It starts with percussion from congas and such, a spoken word section and later sung vocals. The music starts building until it reaches the mid point and the regular beat takes over and Carlos' guitar comes in with the full band and a small chorus of vocalists singing together. Where the first track had a longer build up and started hesitantly, "Batonga" starts immediately with the percussion establishing a quick beat. The vocalists come in early with the percussion taking most of the supporting background only accompanied by bass. Eventually the guitar comes in along with more vocals as the echo each other on the melody and Carlos' begins to improvise off the main melody with a lot of support from the organ.

"Oye Este Mi Canto" takes things to a more mellow and jazzy feel, and Buika's vocals shining with a call and answer style with the background singers. After 2 minutes, the rhythm solidifies into a fusion style with driving percussion and guitar. Just before 4 minutes, it returns to the softer jazz style and more vocals. "Yo Me Lo Merezco" goes for a more solid rock feel with a heavy beat and a nice riff. Buika's distinctive vocals still work well with this track which is more rock oriented. Of course you get a solid solo from Carlos and the music speeds up introducing more percussion as his solo continues. This is the sound we all know and love from Santana. The guitar work is beautiful and expressive and as the tempo speeds faster as it nears the end, you really get into it.

"Blue Skies" is the longest track on the album at over 9 minutes. It starts off with atmospheric piano, bass and guitar. The rhythm starts off establishing a soft, moderately slow jazz feel with excellent vocal layers. Buika's delivery is just as strong in English and she delivers some demanding lyrics, some of them quite rapidly. The stripped down feel of the instruments continue as the vocal harmonies by the background singers are based on jazz chords giving this a nice texture. After 4 minutes, the music suddenly gets quite heavy as twin guitars come in and solid drums take over. Things calm down again before the 7 minute mark as the original jazz theme returns, but this time the vocals don't return as the guitar and piano play off of each other with soft percussion. Very nice!

"Paraisos Quemados" goes for a funky vibe with bass and strummed rhythm guitar and Carlos' improvised guitar on top. Staying with a more stripped down sound, the organ comes in later for support, things start to build and after 2 minutes, the vocals come in. The music continues in this fashion, threatening to let go, but remaining controlled as the guitar improvises over the pushing rhythm. "Breaking Down the Door" stars with a moderate beat, very Latin sounding, and accordion and brass join in. Vocals come in and the music takes on a more pop sound with a strong Latin flair, sounding like a party song and attempting to be a more arena style track. Nevertheless, it is fun and has an infectious groove. This would be perfect as a single since it is more radio friendly based around Latin Rock.

"Los Invisibles" goes for a solid beat and more funky sound, also possibly trying for radio play, but in Spanish this time. The bass line is quite catchy and the percussion is steady and danceable. It's a great, solid rock track. "Luna Hechicera" is a more moderate rhythm with rapid fire lyrics, strong bass and guitar flourishes. "Bembele" has a softer sound at first, leaning again towards a Latin-jazz feel. The rhythm becomes more pronounced with added drums and such, but everything stays at a soft boil. Carlos keeps the guitar reserved and soft in this very Brazilian style track. "Candombe Cumbele" has a moderate, but strong beat which is reminiscent of "Oye Como Va", but still a song of it's own. The track is driven heavily with percussive layers and a minimal organ riff with only occasional guitar flourishes.

The music is definitely Santana, but there is that nice African flair throughout that give it a unique sound. The music is still mostly Latin Rock based with a good dose of jazz fusion, moving percussion, excellent guitar solos and embellishments, but maybe a little less organ and keys, but they are there too. Buika's vocal fits well with the music and her voice is quite distinctive. There are moments that are in your face rockers, and others that are more stripped down, but I was also hoping for something more ballad-like, say "Moonflower" for example. But, there is a good amount of variety nonetheless, mostly in the first half of the album, which is the strongest half. The 2nd half is a bit more commercial, at least in Santana terms. However, at least the English lyrics are kept more minimal on this album with Spanish lyrics being the main language on this one, with occasional African lyrics, sorry, I don't know which country in Africa. The music is infectious like you expect from Santana, and there is a nice amount of jazz fusion in there too, reminding me more of their earliest music from the late 60s to early 70s. Although the album tends to lose its charm towards the end, with repeated listenings, I think that this problem will correct itself. I tend to find that is a personal issue with me when I am first getting familiar with a Santana album, only to find out later that I am not yet completely familiar with the songs. For now, I can easily give this a 4 star rating, but it is a very strong 4 star that I could bump up later. Fans of Santana's early albums should love this one.

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