Like the phenomenally-successful Supernatural and the somewhat successful Shaman before it, Carlos Santana’All That I Am pairs the legendary guitarist with a number of artists in order to create a melange of songs. Not surprisingly, the effort didn’t result in the same level of success of either of its predecessors.

With 20 million in sales and counting — not to mention 9 grammies — it would be virtually impossible for Santana to match the impact of Supernatural. Shaman, riding partially on the reputation of Supernatural, and partially on the radio-fueled exposure of the Michelle Branch collaboration “The Game of Love” and the Chad Kroeger/Alex Band collaboration “Why Don’t You and I,” went multiple-platinum.

All That I Am didn’t have the breakout quality (or two major hit singles) of Supernatural, or the two radio-friendly singles of Shaman. But overall, it is a more cohesive album than either of those two.While Supernatural and Shaman feel like the creation of producers, songwriters and A&R men, All That I Am seems more like a band with some guest stars. Part of it may have to do with the fact that it does feature Santana’s regular touring band throughout the album, including:

Raul Rekow (congas, background vocals)
Karl Perazzo (timbales, percussion, background vocals)
Dennis Chambers (drums)
Chester Thompson (organ)
Jeff Cressman (trombone)
Bill Ortiz (trumpet)
Benny Rietveld (bass)

Santana: Cry Baby Cry
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In addition, the artists Carlos Santana was paired with have styles that are far more similar than was the case on the previous two albums. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a “hit single” on the album; it reached gold status (500,000 in sales), but that may have been due — in great part — to its use in an aggressive iPod Nano campaign.

Generally, the album has a rock feel, with pop, R&B, hip-hop, and Latin flavors thrown in. “Hermes,” “El Fuego,” “Just Feel Better” (a somewhat lackluster pairing with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler), “Brown Skin Girl” (featuring American Idol semi-finalist Bo Bice), and “Don’t Wanna’ Lose Your Love” (with Los Lonely Boys) are straight ahead rock songs. While each is well-crafted, played and recorded, none stand out. Even the best of the bunch, “Don’t Wanna’ Lose Your Love,” doesn’t have enough hooks for a hit single.

Capturing more of a Latin vibe are “Con Santana,” “Cry Baby Cry” (featuring British soul wunderkind Josh Stone and rapper Sean Paul), and “Da Tu Amor.” These songs don’t stray too far from the theme, but utilize more traditionally Latin elements like montuno parts on the piano, and a percussion-fueled drive.

Rounding out the album in the hip-hop/R&B vein are “My Man” (with Mary J. Blige on some smokin’ vocals and Big Boi, from Outkast, rapping), “I Am Somebody” (featuring of the Black Eyed Peas), and “Twisted” (featuring neo soul singer Anthony Hamilton).

Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp (The Wreckers) contribute “I’m Feeling You,” a formulaic pop song (and one of the singles released) that doesn’t quite capture the spirit that The Game of Love did. Finally, there is “Trinity”: a rather pedantic instrumental with Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph.

Carlos Santana’s playing on the album is consistently good, but without the fire he has displayed in the past. All That I Am is a pleasant listen, but will certainly never be judged as one of Santana’s premiere albums.

All That I Am Song Info

Song Featuring Producers Writers
Hermes Carlos Santana Carlos Santana and S. Jurad
El Fuego Carlos Santana Carlos Santana, Jean Shepherd and Richared Shepherd
I’m Feeling You Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp Michelle Branch Kara DioGuardi, John Shanks
My Man Big Boi and Mary J. Blige Big Boi and The Beat Bullies Antwan Patton, Nsilo Reddick, Nicholas Sherwood and Rob Thomas
Just Feel Better Steven Tyler John Shanks Jamie Houston, Buck Johnson and Damon Johnson
I Am Somebody and George Pajon, Jr.
Con Santana IsmaÏla and Sixu Toure, also known as Toure Kunda Carlos Santana Carlos Santana, IsmaÏla Toure and Tidane “Sixu” Toure
Twisted Anthony Hamilton Dante Ross Dante Ross and Nandi Willis
Trinity Kirk Hammett and Robert Randolph Carlos Santana Carlos Santana, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Michael Brook
Cry Baby Cry Sean Paul and Joss Stone Lester Mendez Lester Mendez, Sean Paul, Kara DioGuardi and Jimmy Harry
Brown Skin Girl Bo Bice Lester Mendez and Jamie Houston Jamie Houston
I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Los Lonely Boys Carlos Santana Henry Garza, Ringo Garza and Joey Garza
Da Tu Amor Carlos Santana Carlos Santana, Andy Vargas, and Gary Glenn

Next Album: Ultimate Santana