Sting is a great musician. It’s easy to be impressed by his amazing career, from his days in The Police (1977-1984), which hailed itself as one of the world’s best bands of the early 80s, to his solo catalogue. Sting has surfed closer to soft rock hits with duets with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart but mainly achieved hits with strong ideas and ideals. The beautiful They Dance Alone evokes the kidnappings in Chile, while Russians addresses cold war. Sting penned incredibly successful hits, from Fortress Around Your Heart, Englishman in New York, Fragile, If I Ever Lose My Faith in You to Desert Rose in his career, not to mention his Police years. He dives into jazz, world music, reggae and rock with ease.

I was personally captivated by his participation in a very serious study about songwriter’s brains in which Sting participates. At one point in the study, captured in “The Musical Mind”, Sting backs out of the analysis because he’s scared that understanding too much how his brain works could hurt that “magic place” where he mentally goes when he is inspired. That is very precious to him.

 

The danger that threatens many songwriters of his stature and experience is to become satisfied with songs that aren’t that great, but pass the test because of the star’s charisma or voice tone. Guys like Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Paul Simon or Eric Clapton – legends! – have all gone through those lethargic periods where maybe one or two songs stand out on a record but the rest gets rapidly forgettable. Then they get back into “the zone” and produce awesome albums back to back.

Sting talks about his creative process in this short clip.

 

On his 12th solo album, titled “57th and 9th” and released November 11, 2016, we find a songwriter who masters his art and who wishes to re-explore the different genres he embraced during his 40-year career. 50,000 is a very Police-type of rock song, probably the closest of the trio’s sound and energy he’s ever been with his solo material, that is generally smoother. The song is a tribute to Prince’s exciting concerts and features guitarist Dominic Miller (Sting collaborator for the last 20 years). Petrol Head is a steady energy rocker while Down Down Down has almost an alternative feel to it.

Here are a few songs from this new album.

 

Sting evokes spirituality in a few songs on “57th and 9th”. While the beautiful and inspired Inshallah takes the poignant point of view of war refugees, a song like If You Can’t Love Me This Way, which musically sounds a bit like a jazz-fuelled Muse song, could be a love song or a spiritually focused song where the narrator could be God or a man confused in his soul searching.

Opening the album, the lighter folk pop I Can’t Stop Thinking About You seems to refer to God, in whatever form He has for Sting. “Until we find you, our life is incomplete” he sings before addressing a clearer message in the chorus:

I can’t stop thinking about you
I can’t stop wanting you this way
I can’t face living without you
That’s why I’m searching night and day
This heart’s a lonely hunter
These hands are frozen fists
I can’t stop thinking about you
I don’t care if you exist

As read in The Consequence of Sound’s review: “The album itself is named after the cross streets in New York that the songwriter traversed every day to make it to the studio. 57th & 9th was recorded in just three months with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and guitarist Dominic Miller from his touring group, as well as Jerry Fuentes, Diego Navaira, and Derek James from a Tex-Mex band based out of San Antonio called The Last Bandoleros.”

“57th and 9th” is a great return to form for the 65-year-old star that can put back the “rock” idiom in his job title again.

Let’s end this article with Sting’s finest moments, in a playlist. Enjoy!

 

sting 57th9th album

STING
57th and 9th
(A&M, 2016)

-Genre: rock
-In the same mindset than Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney

Listen or buy the album on Google Play
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Listen to videos on the artist’s YouTube channel

Lire la critique de cet album en français ici!

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier
Fondateur et rédacteur en chef
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Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 4 500 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Nicolas a publié "Les perles rares et les grands crus de la musique" en janvier 2013, un ouvrage de 1250 pages en deux tomes.