In Search of Mona Lisa (ep)
Ahead of a new Rick Rubin-produced full-lengther, the Woodstock 50 celebrations and various other 50th Anniversary gigs it’s going to be a big year for Carlos and his new version of the band Santana and it start with this EP; clues for the sound of the new album, crumbs…
And as with Santana IV and subsequent live outings and releases it’s a vast improvement on the duet and “Special Guests” recordings of the 90s and 00s that had Carlos pegged as some splatter-painting soloist essentially deep inside his own gaming console – for that was the only kind of ‘Guitar Hero’ noises we were hearing. Horrid, inispid, hideous.
But that bug has been ironed out.
And the band is occasionally giving glimpses of the magic that started it all.
Here we have three brand new tracks with two tag-on ‘edits’. (Actually the 3-minute single-version of the opener is also very good – even clipped all the way back).
Opener, Do You Remember Me is nearly 10 minutes and features a solid six of slow-burn Santana instrumental guitar before we get to the vocals. We’ve heard it before, but we haven’t heard him like this since the early 1990s. So it gets the tick.
Then it’s to the title track, inspired by Carlos finally visiting the famous museum to see the famous painting – as recent as 2016.
Lovers From Another Time is my pick though. This is more of the shadowy whispers of Carlos’ guitar. I think the reason this all works as well as it does is Narada Michael Walden’s involvement as co-vocalist, co-drummer and co-composer. He’s got the songwriting chops here. And he and Santana’s wife, Cindy Blackman, play great drums throughout.
As with Santana IV and the other recent recordings this isn’t rave-material but it almost is, by virtue of the fact that it’s not the embarrassing clusterfuck that Santana fans had to sit through across much of the last two decades.
With this hint of what’s to come I’m looking forward to the edits from the monster Rick Rubin sessions which were said to see close to 50 songs laid down in just over one week. Bring it.