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Santana - All That I Am CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.24 | 61 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Noodling in the background

After a lengthy break from the studio, Santana returned in 1999 with "Supernatural", an album of collaborations with the good and the great. In 2002, "Shaman" followed in similar fashion, with further collaborations. Both of these albums sold well, helped by the occasional hit single plus of course the guest lists.

"All that I am" is the largely overlooked third such album from Santana, released in 2005. Once again, we have an impressive list of collaborators, ranging from Steve Tyler of Aerosmith to Joss Stone and Mary J Blige. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way the song-writing requirements appear to have been overlooked, resulting in an album full of potential which ultimately fails to satisfy.

The album opens with a couple of traditional Santana pieces with strong ethnic influences. While these are reassuringly familiar, they have the feel of having heard it all before. All too soon though, we are into a pure pop mode with "I'm feeling you". This song, which features Michelle Branch and the Wreckers, is pure Leann Rhymes upbeat melodic pop with a prosaic Carlos Santana guitar break. Indeed, his guitar can be heard in the background at various stages throughout the song, but it is mixed well back.

"My man" calls up Mary J Blige and Big Boi who once again take over this soul/funk song to which Big Boi adds rapping. Carlos may be noodling in the background, but this is an MJB song. Steve Tyler's distinctive vocals add some nice colours to the single "Just feel better", an upbeat facsimile of "Don't want to miss a thing". The strangely named hip hop artist, better known as a founding member of Black Eyed Peas, is the guest for "I am somebody", an anonymous piece of funk rock. Soul singer Anthony Hamilton appears on "Twisted", a pleasant Bobby Brown like soft soul number.

Finally, on "Trinity", we get to some real meat. Guitarist Kirk Hammett of Metallica and talented pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph join Carlos for a trinity of three guitars. This wonderful instrumental is woefully short, cut off in its prime by a crude fade. All too soon we are back to the rap and soul, this time with Sean Paul and Joss Stone guesting on "Cry baby cry". Other guests include Los Lonely Boys, Bo Brice, and Toure Kunda.

In all, this is a frustrating album. Carlos Santana's guitar work is pretty much ever present, but he is always playing second fiddle to the guest performers. It is almost as if he is in a world of his own in the background, oblivious to the vocalists in the foreground. Those whose tastes extend to soul, rap and funk will probably enjoy this album immensely. It is certainly well crafted but highly derivative. Nothing prog to speak of either.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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