Satch is back with his latest offering Shapeshifting and seventeenth studio album if memory serves me right, I ran out of fingers. Satch has been one of the most prolific six-string instrumentalists of his generation and any generation since if I may say, tossing out studio albums like sweeties to the kids for the last thirty-five years or so since his arrival on the scene with Not Of This Earth. A simply stunning musician, Joe Satriani paved the way for generations of guitarists who have since followed in his footsteps and make the guitar a majestic instrument in its own right.
You would think that after so many years that it would be hard for an artist such as Satriani to keep moving the goalposts musically, to keep coming up with intriguing guitar work that pushes both the artist and the boundaries within the genre yet Satriani has always been able to stay ahead of the game with his mesmerizing fretwork and beautiful melodic quality that so many who try to emulate and just fall short of achieving. In an industry that is constantly an ever-changing landscape with numerous challenges, Satriani has pushed the envelope of creativity to keep his audience and an army of followers constantly on their toes, If Not of This Earth (1986) paved the way, Surfing with the Alien (1987) was a landmark album for both Satriani and the guitar instrumentalist worldwide. Flying in a Blue Dream (1989) and The Extremist (1992) raised the bar even further, Satch has this unwavering ability to reinvent himself musically without ever losing that signature sound or quality to his musicianship. Crystal Planet (1998) Engines of Creation (2000) Strange Beautiful Music (2002) Is There Love in Space? (2004) show just how diverse an artist can possibly be yet so cohesive at the same time.
Releasing albums roughly every two years since then Satch has bombarded us with stunning artistry ever since taking us up to 2020 and his latest offering Shapeshifting. The album opens with a dramatic drumroll andthumping baseline and Satch’s heavily distorted guitar sound and the albums self-titled track which whets the appetite immediately, followed by the latest single ‘Big Distortion’ which is like a gargantuan sounding wall of distortion crashing down on you with an old-school Rock ’N’ Roll vibe about it. ‘All For Love’ is a darker more emotive track with a slower pace and cutting guitar work as only Satch does, ‘Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me’ is a quirky sounding track as the title would imply and Satch takes full advantage in making the guitar as broad as an instrument as you will hear with his majestic touch. ‘Teardrops’ is another emotive number as the storytelling continues via darker emotive guitar work that takes the breath away, ‘Perfect Dust’ with its slight country twang lifts the spirits back up and again showcases the diversity Satriani likes to bring across his recordings. Satch’s big hitter and first single Nineteen-Eighty is up next and as you will have no doubt already have heard is a throwback to the majesty of the era and has subtle similarities in riffage to earlier tracks like ‘Surfing With The Alien’ etc, an absolute beast of a track it has Satch at his best and will no doubt be another fan-favorite live.
‘All My Friends Are Here’ is a feel-good number with a Bluesy backbone, it is a laid back summer-anthem for those days with the windows rolled down and stereo blasting, ‘Spirits, Ghosts and Outlaws’ is a gnarly number that grips you from the off with its dirty riff and gritty tone whilst ‘Falling Stars’ teases you with its subtle intro guiding you through the mind and complexity that is the brain of Joe Satriani, building up the tension before unleashing a funky crescendo and sublime solo work from the man himself. ‘Waiting’ takes the pace back down with a slow-paced track that like on may of his album is so short and sweet it bridges between tracks and is a signature Satriani trait that is subtle but so beautifully effective. ‘Hear The Blue River’ with is Reggae backbone is our penultimate track and once again has Satch bring own all the world music influences to his music and also showing regardless of which one he has pulled inspiration from, how easily he can make a guitar instrumental track out of it and make it his own too.
The album wraps up with ‘Yesterday’s Yesterday ‘ opening up with an acoustic guitar, a rarity for a Satriani track, and is another feel-good number to close of a simply outstanding recording once again from Joe and Co. An understated number where less is more, Satriani closes off Shapeshifting and leaves you begging for more.
A simply beautiful album on all levels Satriani has knocked it out of the park once again.
Satriani’s forthcoming studio album, “Shapeshifting”, remains set for release on April 10, 2020 via Sony Music/Legacy Recordings and new song, “Big Distortion,” is available on all streaming platforms today, listen HERE