'All That I Am' Much Less Than Santana Can Be

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

'All That I Am' Much Less Than Santana Can Be


Byline: Scott Galupo, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Santana

All That I Am

Arista Records

Carlos Santana is one of those idiosyncratically gifted guitarists whose style - the rich tones, the dramatic phrasing - is instantly identifiable even to the casual ear. It would be hard, in other words, not to know you're listening to Santana, the Latin rock band he has led for nearly 40 years.

On much of "All That I Am," though, Mr. Santana is reduced to a bit role in his own painstakingly overscripted drama. That idiosyncratic guitar is a chattering sideshow in a production that forgot it needed a main attraction.

The idea of pairing Mr. Santana with professional songwriters and hot young artists was swell in 1999, when the San Francisco rocker, in need of a career shakeup, collaborated with Rob Thomas for the radio-conquering "Smooth." Mr. Santana and producer Clive Davis went to the same well again on 2002's "Shaman," which produced the endlessly hummable Michelle Branch-sung "The Game of Love."

Assuming there's an endless crop of popular new faces to showcase, plus a running assembly line of new songs from which to cull potential hits, the Santana-plus formula is, in theory at least, easy to replicate. "All That I Am," however, proves it's more like a cul-de-sac.

For starters, the album has a less interesting cast than its predecessor, which - say what you will about its other flaws - managed to house rap-metalers P.O.D. and neo-soul singer Macy Gray under the same roof.

Even on its own terms, "All That I Am" is a lackluster listen. It becomes more incoherent with each genuflection to current trends (the appearance of "American Idol's" Bo Bice being a sorely obvious low point). …

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