“The Game of Love,” the hit single from Santana’s latest release Shaman that features a duet between Michelle Branch and Santana, was co-produced and co-written by ex-New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander and Rick Nowels (Madonna, Dido, Jewel), and engineered by Chris Garcia. The piece was recorded at Nowels’ studio in Santa Monica, Calif., where they relied on Neumann U67s for Branch’s vocals and a U67 and Sennheiser MD 421 combo for Santana’s axe.
“I used a Neumann U67 on Branch,” recalled Garcia, who selected the microphone for its ability to best capture her vocal performance. “She sounds fabulous. She’s a really good singer. We used all Neumann U87s on all of the horns,” he said.
For instrument miking, Sennheiser microphones handled the drum overheads and the kick, as well as room ambience. For Carlos’ guitar, Garcia used a U87 with a Sennheiser MD 421 for the amp.
According to Garcia, Shaman repeats the Supernatural formula by combining the legendary guitarist with Top 40 artists such as Macy Gray, Seal, Dido, P.O.D., Chad Kroeger and Musiq. “Santana pretty much worked with a different producer for each song,” commented Garcia. “We were at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley [Calif.], and he was cutting three songs in each of the three studios with different producers.”
Garcia’s engineering resume includes Cindy Lauper’s A Hat Full of Stars and projects with Dido and Jewel. He also engineered Celine Dion’s Falling Into You, for which Nowels also wrote and produced the Grammy-winning single and title track.