Joe Satriani – What Happens Next
Sony/Legacy Recordings – 2018
“Energy” kicks off Joe Satriani’s 16th solo album What Happens Next with a thrust of power that’s sure to charge your musical soul. The enigmatic guitarist is right in his element, singing out with his guitar in a way that has made him famous over the past thirty plus years. Rhythm section of Bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Black Country Communion) and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers/Chickenfoot) bring a deep pocket groove that anyone could jam along with.
Smith’s hard-hitting percussion allows Satch to do his cosmic six-string thing in “Catbot.” This tune reminds me of a cross between “The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing” and one of the harder driving songs off The Extremist.
There’s a native American feel to “Thunder High on the Mountain.” This probably stems from the huge bass drum kick that Chad Smith puts down during the first half of the song.
“Cherry Blossoms” is a tender piece where Satriani adds guitar in soft little ways, while Smith pounds out another heavy percussive approach.
There’s a spiritual touch to “Righteous. The bass and drums foundation in this track allow Satch to get expressive with a touch of funky guitar texture and patterns.
“Smooth Soul” has a real cool down relaxing way about it. I can’t say enough how the bottom end of this album makes the musical base solid. It’s tight and is perfect for letting Satriani do his thing. The thing that also stands out so much about this song is how comfortable Joe Satriani feels within his composition.
“Headrush” provides a stomping good time. It’s a boogie piece the moves at an up-tempo pace with the drums and bass providing the groundwork for Joe to get expressive with his bluesy rock-n-roll. I found the most interesting aspect the soft guitar playing while Satriani was playing some heavier edge stuff on top of it.
“Looper” sounds like a cousin of one of the tunes you would have heard from Satriani’s self-titled 1995 album. It’s got that kind of guitar sound and overall groove.
I love the song title “Super Funky Badass.” Satch harnesses his inner-coolness to channel bluesy-groove driven guitar that only his six-string highness can do for our listening delight. The bass and drums are just perfect, and the sound recorded by Producer/Engineer/Mixer Mike Fraser is so pristine that I’d call it close to an audio work of art.
The ending like beginning of “Invisible” gives it immediate energy. The drum beat in this eleventh track is active and fun to listen to. The way the bass rhythm takes over one and half minutes into the song is cool. The sound of Satriani’s notes that follow is quite amazing. This song has almost a live-jazz like performance, which done with high energy rock-no-roll makes for something special.
“Forever and Ever” is a purposeful way to send warmth to listeners of this impressive album.
I’d say What Happens Next is a truly special album because it’s tremendously diverse, recorded at the highest level of production, with musical performances nothing short of inspired. Satriani and his bandmates caught a spark of musicality on this one, not seen often in today’s world of music.