Love Songs [Sony International]

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Santana Love Songs? There have been two instrumental collections already, so why not? Sony's choices are pretty solid for the most part, and it's obvious this record was created more as a vibe album than a theme one -- given that "Samba Pa Ti" is an instrumental, is it really a love song? But this might have been called Music for Loving or Wit the Lights Off or something like that, because the mood is unabashedly romantic though far from syrupy or sentimental. The sheer sensuality in Santana's guitar tone and the placement of percussion in the mix offers plenty of texture for languid amorous tunes like the band's cover of "Stormy" or J.J. Cale's "The Sensitive Kind." Add to this Tom Coster's gorgeous merengue "Flor d'Luna," or Alan Pasqua and Santana's shimmering "Aqua Marine," or the Jim Capaldi/Carlos-authored track "Before We Go," and you have an unabashedly romantic, lushly ornate yet moving collection of tunes that set the stage for amour.

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