Carlos Santana and Chris Stapleton team up for groove-infused, lick-laden new single, Joy

Carlos Santana and Chris Stapleton
(Image credit: Gotham/WireImage / Erika Goldring/Getty Images for CMT via Getty)

When Carlos Santana announced his upcoming album, Blessings and Miracles, he promised a collaborative tour de force featuring a huge array of electric guitar and acoustic guitar heavyweights.

So far, the PRS-wielding magician has joined forces with Steve Winwood for the soulful Whiter Shade of Pale, and rekindled his musical relationship with vocalist Rob Thomas for Move, their first single in 22 years since Smooth.

Now, Santana has once again delivered the goods, recruiting country singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton for the album’s latest groove-infused single, Joy.

As per the name, the track is a joy to listen to, and was composed by the pair with the intention of being a “healing force” to combat “fear in the world”. And how do the duo go about achieving this goal? Well, with some irresistible guitar licks, smooth grooves and dense vocal swirls, of course.

Much like the rest of Santana’s repertoire, there’s a bounty of guitar work to sink your teeth into. Punctuating Stapleton’s vocal passages with sporadic flourishes and lyric-mirroring motifs, Santana then gets an opportunity to unleash on a classically classy solo, supercharged with some pinpoint bends and high-octane licks.

Of the song, Santana said (via Rolling Stone), “I was very intrigued to work with Chris. We talked on the phone about the Covid situation and how there’s so much fear in the world, and I said, ‘We need to create music as a healing force. We must bring hope and courage and disinfect twisted minds infected with darkness.’ 

“That gave him the ammunition to write such incredible words," he continued. "Somewhere I said, 'Flying on the wings of angels,’ so it’s a collaboration. And what an incredible song it is. The choir in it – it’s like the Staple Singers.”

Joy is the fourth single taken from the much-anticipated Blessings and Miracles, which will feature guest appearances from Kirk Hammett, Rick Rubin, Diane Warren, Corey Glover, Ally Brooke, Narada Michael Walden and the late Chick Corea.

Named after Santana’s belief that “we’re born with heavenly powers that allow us to create blessings and miracles”, the upcoming effort will also see drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, singer Tommy Antony and bassist Benny Rietveld in action.

Said Santana, "The world programs you to be unworthy of those gifts, but we have to utilize light, spirit and soul – they’re indestructible and immutable. Those are the three main elements on this album."

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.