8/10

The world’s most famous  guitar teacher is back, and he’s brought his whammy bar with him.

“Satch” is just as famous for melting faces with his licks as he is for schooling famous guitarists like Kirk Hammett and Steve Vai in Satriani’s School of Face Melting, thus bestowing more flashy guitar playing upon this world. His new album ‘Shapeshifting’ is, just like you would think, another textbook from this higher institution of guitar playing. It’s almost impossible to rate the guitar playing on this record, as it comes from a place of musical superiority that is difficult to comprehend for mere mortals. Satriani’s playing and tone is close to the very definition of flawless, which makes it sort of hard to comment on other than just affirming the absoluteness of his ability.

The songs are mostly very catchy for being instrumentals, full of hooks in the form of repeating licks and tonal effects. Some songs, like ‘Spirits, Ghosts & Outlaws’, sounds like you’re listening to a comic book that’s full of would-be super hero themes and soundtracks for elaborate showdowns. Some songs, like ‘Teardrops’, takes the listener on an emotional trip anchored by Satriani’s  tasteful melancholic minor melodies. Album finisher ‘Yesterday’s Yesterday’ even ventures into folk music, so for being an instrumental guitar album it’s quite eclectic. ‘Shapeshifting’ is firmly showcasing Satch as one of the most versatile players in the guitar elite league.

If you like instrumental rock and/or top-of-the-line guitar playing, then this record is a no-brainer. Even though he might not work as a guitar teacher anymore, Satch is clearly still schooling us.

Artist: Joe Satriani
Title: Shapeshifting
Label: Sony Music Entertainment
Date of release: 10/4-20
Rate: 8/10
Stand out track:  Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me