Joe Satriani is a world renowned guitar prodigy who transcends space and time with every guitar lick. For more than three decades in music, Satriani has released solo album after solo album every few years or so, never wavering on his love to tell a story through his guitar. Even at the youthful age of 62, Satriani seems to have zero plans to slow down a career that has garnered platinum selling albums, sold out tours, and some of the most highly acclaimed instrumental Rock music ever to surf the airwaves. Following his most recent releases like 2015’s Shockwave Supernova and 2018’s What Happens Next, Satriani is ready to drop his new album of contagious tunes, Shapeshifting, to be released on Friday, April 10, 2020 via Sony Music/Legacy Recordings.
Not to be forgotten, Satriani’s core band on Shapeshifting most notably consists of veteran Drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty), Bassist Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction), and Keyboardist Eric Caudieux along with contributions by former Prince Keyboardist Lisa Coleman and Christopher Guest. On Production, Satriani co-produced Shapeshifting alongside veteran Producer Jim Scott (Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) and longtime associate John Cuniberti on mastering. With that, Shapeshifting is kicked into gear by the bass and percussion driven title track, “Shapeshifting.” A well placed start, the groove here takes the time to allow Satriani’s guitar melody to build to the right climax. Next, the fun clap along of “Big Distortion” is the high as the ballad “All For Love” slows things down.
Thereafter, we have the gang of “Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me” which names Africa’s most famous international musician, Ali Farka, Surf Rock pioneer Dick Dale, an alien, and Satriani himself for this story. Diving deeper, “Teardrops” is a ballad with an invigorating melody that really makes you hear the feeling Satriani is conveying. For the next track, “Perfect Dust,” listeners will ask: Has Joe gone Country? Because this track is definitely a song that will make you want to line dance yet it does mix in some Modern Rock attributes. Complete with ripping guitar solos, “Nineteen Eighty” is an early 1980s style Rock-n-Roll jam but done in Satriani’s own way. You see, this is where Satriani travels back to the time of his first band, the Squares, for a bit of a New Wave sound. Having said that, this track does stick to a more Rock oriented style.
A stand out track, “All My Friends Are Here” is a cool slow moving jam that you could chill out to at a bar on a Sunday afternoon. Following this, we have the dynamic “Spirts, Ghosts and Outlaws,” the heavily tempered yet catchy “Falling Stars,” and a ballad called “Waiting” which features some nice piano. A Reggae flavored tune, “Here the Blue River” has a hook that screams like a saw as Shapeshifting closes via the incredibly pleasing acoustic melody of the happy tune “Yesterday’s Yesterday.”
Overall, Joe Satriani’s latest is a highly straight forward and interesting concoction of instrumental Rock guitar music that will fit right in with the rest of his catalog. In regards to stand outs, songs like “Shapeshifting,” “Teardrops,” “Nineteen Eighty,” “All My Friends Are Here,” and “Yesterday’s Yesterday” make Shapeshifting worth the time of Satriani fans around the globe. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Shapeshifting 3.5 out of 5 stars.