A commercial holding action while the latest version of Santana jells, Inner Secrets probably insures continued airplay but doesn’t mean sheep-dip in the larger scheme of the band’s discography.
The excessively competent Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, a songwriting/production team that specializes in nouveau bubblegum, have chopped and channeled the group into a slicked-down shadow of its former self, muting the fire of percussionists Pete Escovedo and Armando Peraza and wasting the rest of Santana’s talents on some awfully thin pop drivel.
Pointless cover renditions abound. Lead singer Greg Walker’s quasi resemblance to Steve Winwood is exploited in “Dealer/Spanish Rose,” while Buddy Holly’s happy-go-lucky “Well All Right” emerges as an extra long spiritual hosanna. Only “Stormy,” the luscious Buddy Buie/J. R. Cobb classic, managed to survive this kind of treatment. Of the original material, “Life Is a Lady/Holiday,” a thoughtful Lambert/Santana collaboration, is the sole standout.
Devadip Carlos Santana now shares lead-guitar duties with Chris Solberg, and it’s hard to tell them apart. Chris Rhyne (keyboards, synthesizers) has yet to assert himself. Though Graham Lear is adequate, he lacks the urgency generated by former drummer Mike Shrieve. So Inner Secrets remains an okay album from a band that could — and should — make more-than-okay music. So what else is new?