“Sonora” is Santos’ sixth studio album. The album title encapsulates the sentiment of the album because, although the album tracks are very different in style, they all have a common thread: the desert. Sonora is the first album that Santos fully identifies with in more ways than one. The album is diverse and encompasses music and guitar styles ranging from Western to psychedelia.

“Sonora” was recorded at the Black Betty Studios in Madrid, and is produced by Susan Santos and Jose Nortes. I’ll just take a moment to say what a great city Madrid is; you can only make great music there! 

 All songs composed by Susan Santos were recorded as a trio with bassist David Salvador, and drummer Juli El Lento. On the new album, Santos sang lead vocals, played electric, baritone, and acoustic guitars, banjo, and theremín.

“Sonora” is the album of the desert and of the desert people. The songs tell stories ranging from survival, thirst, outlaws, escape and freedom against a backdrop of scorpions, lizards, and roadrunners. Before listening, it is highly recommended that you embark on your journey with a full tank and don’t pick up hitchhikers.

Based in Madrid, Susan Santos is a passionate, self-taught guitarist. A left-handed guitarist, she writes her own songs that reflect her unique blend of rhythm and textures, which celebrates her abilities as a creative force and as a truly unique artist in her own right.

The gifted Spanish guitarist and singer-songwriter has spent years performing in famous and established venues and at numerous festivals throughout Europe, Mexico, and America.

Album Review

1. “Hot Rod Lady” (3:59) drives the start of the album with one hell of a guitar riff, a solid chous and these great guitar breaks that show the intent of this album from the start. It’s a great rock opener.

2. “Snakebite” (4:57) gets a bit of funk into that sound, largely through the drum sound. This one has a kind of dance beat; you move to it. It also has more lyrical depth than the opener, it is one I liked a lot; it has a solid groove; the vibe is catchy; and you boogie along to it. The instrumental break is pretty good too; there is a kind of clap-along guitar sound on this one. One of the best on the album is a commercial killer. 

3. “So Long” (4:26) moves into AOR territory, with a touch of Heart, in there somewhere, I thought. It has a pleasing melody, and the guitars connect to the vocals, almost giving it a country rock feel. It’s like having a cool coke on a hot day—this one!

4. “Have Mercy” (4:31) changes the style; it almost reminded me of a memory of an Elvis number! It has a slow dance vibe, a really good groove, and vocals. The guitar break mid-track is another cool blast. A really good song, I liked it.

5. “What I Want” (4:58) turns us back toward a country rocking sound. The chorus cuts the mustard, and it has a solid, catchy rhythm. The guitar break had the ZZ Top shuffle boogie in it. 

6. “Voodoo Wheels” (3:23) turns up the speed. It changes the mood again, and it is a decent album track, but probably the first one on the album that didn’t really cut it for me. Just one of those things!

7. “Call Me Tonight” (3:32) returns to a slower pop rock feel. I liked it as an album track, and I think it would sound great live. I’d actually like to hear a live version of it, as I think it would gain a heavier feel there.

8. “Let It Ride” (5:50) closes the album with a slight turn to a 70’s rock feel. A throbbing blues guitar is in the driving seat for a strong end.

There is loads to love in this funky rock album, plenty of catchy chorus’ and great guitar breaks. I liked the diversity within the album; each song is distinct; there is no way you are working out whether you have moved to a new song; each one has its own identity. It’s a class act!

Standout tracks: “Snakebite,” “Have Mercy,” and “What I Want.”

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By Stevie Ritson


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