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£12.49

Pop - Released March 3, 1993 | A&M

Distinctions Sélection du Mercury Prize
After two albums of muted, mature jazz-inflected pop, the last being an explicit album about death, Sting created his first unapologetically pop album since the Police with Ten Summoner's Tales. The title, a rather awkward pun on his given last name, is significant, since it emphasizes that this album is a collection of songs, without any musical conceits or lyrical concepts tying it together. And, frankly, that's a bit of a relief after the oppressively somber The Soul Cages and the hushed though lovely, Nothing Like the Sun. Sting even loosens up enough to crack jokes, both clever (the winking litany of celebrity pains of [RoviLink="MC"]"Epilogue [Nothing 'Bout Me]"[/RoviLink]) and condescending (the sneeringly catchy cowboy tale [RoviLink="MC"]"Love Is Stronger Than Justice [The Munificent Seven]"[/RoviLink]), and the result is his best solo record. In places, it's easily as pretentious as his earlier work, but that's undercut by writing that hasn't been this sharp and melodic since the Police, plus his most varied set of songs since Synchronicity. True, there isn't a preponderance of flat-out classics -- only the surging opener "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," the understated swing of "It's Probably Me," and the peaceful ballad "Fields of Gold" rank as classics -- but, as an album, Ten Summoner's Tales is more consistently satisfying than anything else in his catalog. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | A&M

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The Police never really broke up, they just stopped working together -- largely because they just couldn't stand playing together anymore and partially because Sting was itching to establish himself as a serious musician/songwriter on his own terms. Anxious to shed the mantle of pop star, he camped out at Eddy Grant's studio, picked up the guitar, and raided Wynton Marsalis' band for his new combo -- thereby instantly consigning his solo debut, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, to the critical shorthand of Sting's jazz record. Which is partially true (that's probably the best name for the meandering instrumental title track), but that gives the impression that this is really risky music, when he did, after all, rely on musicians who, at that stage, were revivalists just developing their own style, and then had them jam on mock-jazz grooves -- or, in the case of Branford Marsalis, layer soprano sax lines on top of pop songs. This, however, is just the beginning of the pretensions layered throughout The Dream of the Blue Turtles. Only twice does he delve into straightforward love songs -- the lovely measured "Consider Me Gone" and the mournful closer, "Fortress Around Your Heart" -- preferring to consider love in the abstract ("If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," one of his greatest solo singles, and the childish, faux-reggae singalong "Love Is the Seventh Wave"), write about children in war and in coal mines, revive a Police tune about heroin, ponder whether "Russians love their children too," and wander the streets of New Orleans as the vampire Lestat. This is a serious-minded album, but it's undercut by its very approach -- the glossy fusion that coats the entire album, the occasional grabs at worldbeat, and studious lyrics seem less pretentious largely because they're overshadowed by such bewilderingly showy moves as adapting Prokofiev for "Russians" and calling upon Anne Rice for inspiration. And that's the problem with the record: with every measure, every verse, Sting cries out for the respect of a composer, not a pop star, and it gets to be a little overwhelming when taken as a whole. As a handful of individual cuts -- "Fortress," "Consider Me Gone," "If You Love Somebody," "Children's Crusade" -- he proves that he's subtler and craftier than his peers, but only when he reins in his desire to show the class how much he's learned. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£15.99

Reggae - Released April 20, 2018 | A&M Records

Booklet
Sting and Shaggy: not such a surprising tandem! In 1979 Police’s leader released Reggatta de Blanc, a second album under the Jamaican influence that fed the reggae-punky wave at the time of the Clash, PIL, Ruts Madness, as well as Bob Marley himself. Gordon Summer, who has always been fascinated by Caribbean rhythms, never truly broke away from them. So when his manager Martin Kierszenbaum, who also works with Shaggy, let him listen to his next dancehall hit song, the bassist made the trip from his Malibu home to do a featuring. The understanding between the Jamaican artist and the ex-Police singer was stellar and the track became the single Don't Make Me Wait. And six months later, 44/876, the tandem album was complete. From Crooked Tree to Dreaming In The USA − which restored the US image −, the two companions gave us a most surprising album that blends reggae, dancehall and catchy pop, without falling into ridiculous clichés. “This is exactly the record the world needs right now”, according to Orville Richard Burrell a.k.a. Shaggy… © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Reggae - Released April 20, 2018 | A&M Records

Hi-Res Booklet
Sting and Shaggy: not such a surprising tandem! In 1979 Police’s leader released Reggatta de Blanc, a second album under the Jamaican influence that fed the reggae-punky wave at the time of the Clash, PIL, Ruts Madness, as well as Bob Marley himself. Gordon Summer, who has always been fascinated by Caribbean rhythms, never truly broke away from them. So when his manager Martin Kierszenbaum, who also works with Shaggy, let him listen to his next dancehall hit song, the bassist made the trip from his Malibu home to do a featuring. The understanding between the Jamaican artist and the ex-Police singer was stellar and the track became the single Don't Make Me Wait. And six months later, 44/876, the tandem album was complete. From Crooked Tree to Dreaming In The USA − which restored the US image −, the two companions gave us a most surprising album that blends reggae, dancehall and catchy pop, without falling into ridiculous clichés. “This is exactly the record the world needs right now”, according to Orville Richard Burrell a.k.a. Shaggy… © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 2011 | A&M

Note that title: it’s the Best of 25 Years, Sting’s career-encompassing box set, not a greatest-hits album, so this 12-song collection misses some hit singles. That said, the big ones are here -- “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” “We’ll Be Together,” “Fragile,” “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” -- along with a couple of choice album tracks and Police live cuts that make this a solid sampler of Sting’s solo work. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | A&M

In the summer of 1997, Puff Daddy took "I'll Be Missing You," a sappy reworking of "Every Breath You Take," to the top of the charts across the world; it became the biggest rap single in history. The success of "I'll Be Missing You" had the bizarre byproduct of making the Police hip again among both rock and rap artists. So, what better way to celebrate the occasion -- as well as the 20th anniversary of the Police's first album -- than to release another compilation, this time combining highlights from the Police and Sting's solo career? The Very Best of Sting & the Police does just that, combining 14 songs -- not necessarily his biggest hits, either -- in a seemingly random chronological order. The Police cuts are generally classics ("Message in a Bottle," "Can't Stand Losing You," "Every Breath You Take," "Walking on the Moon," "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," "Don't Stand so Close to Me," "Roxanne"), but there are several big hits left off, which should probably be expected for an integrated collection like this. What does come as a surprise is the solo material. There's plenty of good music on his records, but the selection here emphasizes his MOR side, relying on songs like "Fields of Gold," "Englishman in New York," "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot," "Russians," and "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," instead of some of his more ambitious material. Obviously, that selection is designed to snag a mature, thirty-something audience, which makes the inclusion of Puff Daddy's remix of "Roxanne" (included in both its original and remixed incarnations) a little puzzling, since that strives to appeal to a younger audience. Then again, you don't really expect coherence from a collection that simply wants to cash in at the right moment. While it's hard to ignore the fact that this disc isn't necessary, the music itself is good, and certain casual fans may find this useful, but anyone following Sting or the Police for any length of time will find The Very Best Of superfluous. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released November 11, 2016 | A&M Records

Hi-Res Booklet
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Pop - Released January 1, 1994 | A&M Records

Early in his solo career, Sting defined himself as a man of taste, choosing to work with jazz musicians instead of rockers. Inevitably, this meant he walked the thin line between sophisticated pop and adult contemporary, but he did it with grace from 1985's Dream of the Blue Turtles to 1993's Ten Summoner's Tales. Unfortunately, Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting doesn't illustrate what a deft trick he pulled off with that quartet of albums. Naturally, Fields of Gold concentrates on his hit singles, just like any other greatest-hits collection, but Sting's material sounds surprisingly tame in this context. Sure, there is a number of great songs here -- enough to state his case as a fine songwriter or to satisfy his casual fans. Still, these songs are safe choices and all share a similarly tranquil quality, which means the collection itself becomes a little monotonous. Nevertheless, Fields of Gold performs the necessary service of rounding up all of the big hits -- "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," "All This Time," "Fortress Around Your Heart," "They Dance Alone," "If Ever Lose My Faith in You," "Fragile," and an alternate version of "We'll Be Together" -- and offering them on one disc, which is reason enough to make it worthwhile, even with its flaws. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Sting - Classical Hits Album

Booklet
Recorded on September 21, 2010 as Sting was smack dab in the middle of his Symphonicities tour, Live in Berlin -- available as a CD/DVD set, a Blu Ray, and a condensed single-disc CD -- offers further orchestral reimaginings of Sting’s songbook, retaining a healthy chunk of the songs on the 2010 album Symphonicities and finding room for other highlights from his past, both obscure and quite familiar (“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Russians,” “King of Pain,” “Every Breath You Take”all pop up on the video). Compared to the studio album, the symphonic flourishes don’t seem quite as overwhelming -- the attention is drawn to Sting and his songs, not to the orchestrations -- and the show is paced expertly, turning Live in Berlin into a bit of sophisticated comfort food for longtime Sting fans. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
It's no secret that Sting is a serious man, so it's only logical that his holiday album -- his first new music since the Police reunion, not that it really matters -- is a serious endeavor, thank you. No niceties for him, no comforts of carols; he favors formal over familiar, writing madrigals, not ditties. It is music made by someone who lives in a castle, which isn't necessarily such a bad thing: the austerity is genuine, not affected, and the cerebral nature of the album is fascinating, albeit mildly so, as this is as sleepy as it is thoughtful. And it's that thoughtfulness that does distinguish If on a Winter's Night...; no other Christmas album exists in the head like this. It's a holiday album for people who have never wanted to hear a holiday album, let alone own one. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1987 | A&M

If Dream of the Blue Turtles was an unabashedly pretentious affair, it looks positively lighthearted in comparison to Sting's sophomore effort, Nothing Like the Sun, one of the most doggedly serious pop albums ever recorded. This is an album where the only up-tempo track, the only trifle -- the cheerfully stiff white-funk "We'll Be Together" -- was added at the insistence of the label because they believed there wasn't a cut on the record that could be pulled as a single, one that would break down the doors to mainstream radio. And they were right, since everything else here is too measured, calm, and deliberately subtle to be immediate (including the intentional throwaway, "Rock Steady"). So, why is it a better album than its predecessor? Because Sting doesn't seem to be trying so hard. It flows naturally, largely because this isn't trying to explicitly be a jazz-rock record (thank the presence of a new rhythm section of Sting and drummer Manu Katche for that) and because the melodies are insinuating, slowly working their way into memory, while the entire record plays like a mood piece -- playing equally well as background music or as intensive, serious listening. Sting's words can still grate -- the stifling pompousness of "History Will Teach Us Nothing" the clearest example, yet calls of "Hey Mr. Pinochet" also strike an uneasy chord -- but his lyricism shines on "The Lazarus Heart," "Be Still My Beating Heart," "They Dance Alone," and "Fragile," a quartet of his very finest songs. If Nothing Like the Sun runs a little too long, with only his Gil Evans-assisted cover of "Little Wing" standing out in the final quarter, it still maintains its tone until the end and, since it's buoyed by those previously mentioned stunners, it's one of his better albums. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2013 | A&M

It's an open secret that Sting's interest in songwriting waned after 2003's Sacred Love, an undistinguished collection of mature pop that passed with barely a ripple despite winning a Grammy for its Mary J. Blige duet "Whenever I Say Your Name." Sting spent the next decade wandering -- writing classical albums for lute, recording the frostiest Christmas album in memory, rearranging his old hits for symphony, then finally, inevitably, reuniting the Police -- before finding inspiration within the confines of a musical. The Last Ship tells the tale of a British shipyard in the '80s, one laid low by changing times, so there's naturally an elegiac undertow to Sting's originals, a sensibility underscored by his decision to ground nearly all these songs in the folk of the British Isles. Dockworkers in the '80s may not have been singing folk songs, but the genre is elastic, allowing for single-spotlight soliloquies along with rousing all-cast showcases, like the boisterous "What Have We Got?" Also, by having the bones of his songs belong to folk, Sting can put together a credible album of his own, as the songs from The Last Ship feel intimate in a way he's rarely attempted in his career. He brings in a few guests -- Jimmy Nail and Becky Unthank show up on the standard edition, AC/DC's Brian Johnson, a rock & roll dockworker if there ever was one, shows up on the deluxe -- but the focus is entirely on the songwriter. Occasionally, Sting's desire to inhabit roles within the musical is a little too strong -- not long into the album he adopts either a Scottish or Irish brogue, elsewhere he affects a workingman's vernacular, all the while sounding like nobody else but the posh Gordon Sumner -- but his songs are precise and cannily crafted, bearing the work of a songwriter who is intent on sculpting every line and every melodic progression. Unlike Sacred Love, The Last Ship isn't listless; even when the album is quiet -- which it often is -- Sting is engaged, relishing the different characters that inhabit his musical and seizing the challenge of writing in the longform. It's easy to sling arrows at The Last Ship -- there is a whiff of condescension to some of the blue-collar anthems, the air is often haughty ("The Night the Pugilist Learned How to Dance") -- but this is Sting's tightest collection of songs in ages, and they all play off each other, adding up to a cohesive whole that is surely one of his best latter-day records. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | A&M Records

By the late '90s, Sting had reached a point where he didn't have to prove his worth every time out; he had so ingrained himself in pop culture, he really had the freedom to do whatever he wanted. He had that attitude on Mercury Falling, but it was too somber and serious, everything that its successor, Brand New Day, is not. Light, even effervescent, Brand New Day feels like little else in Sting's catalog. Not that it represents a new beginning, contrary to what the title may promise. The album is not only firmly within his tradition, it sounds out of time -- it's odd how close Brand New Day comes to feeling like a sequel to Nothing Like the Sun. Musically, that is. The sparkling, meticulous production and the very tone of the music -- ranging from light funk to mellow ballads to the Lyle Lovett tribute "Fill Her Up" -- are of a piece with Sting's late-'80s work. That's the main thing separating it from Ten Summoner's Tales, his other straight pop album -- well, that, and the levity. There are no overarching themes, no political messages on Brand New Day -- only love songs, story songs, and, for lack of a better term, inspirational exhortations. This is all a good thing, since by keeping things light he's managed to craft an appealing, engaging record. It may not ask as much from its audience as Sting's other '90s efforts, but it's immediately enjoyable, which isn't the case for its cousins. Brand New Day doesn't boast any new classics, and it does sound a little dated, but it's well-crafted, melodic, and has a good sense of humor -- exactly the kind of record Sting should be making as he embarks on the third decade of his career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Reggae - Released April 20, 2018 | A&M Records

Booklet
Sting and Shaggy: not such a surprising tandem! In 1979 Police’s leader released Reggatta de Blanc, a second album under the Jamaican influence that fed the reggae-punky wave at the time of the Clash, PIL, Ruts Madness, as well as Bob Marley himself. Gordon Summer, who has always been fascinated by Caribbean rhythms, never truly broke away from them. So when his manager Martin Kierszenbaum, who also works with Shaggy, let him listen to his next dancehall hit song, the bassist made the trip from his Malibu home to do a featuring. The understanding between the Jamaican artist and the ex-Police singer was stellar and the track became the single Don't Make Me Wait. And six months later, 44/876, the tandem album was complete. From Crooked Tree to Dreaming In The USA − which restored the US image −, the two companions gave us a most surprising album that blends reggae, dancehall and catchy pop, without falling into ridiculous clichés. “This is exactly the record the world needs right now”, according to Orville Richard Burrell a.k.a. Shaggy… © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
£12.49

Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Sting - Classical Hits Album

£33.49

Pop - Released January 1, 2011 | A&M

Celebrating a quarter century of Sting: The Solo Artist, the three-CD/one-DVD 2011 box set 25 Years is a handsome retrospective bound in a hardcover book. Some box sets are heavy on rarities, all the better to hook the hardcore, some are designed to be comprehensive but 25 Years follows a different route, choosing to offer a leisurely journey through the past, stopping at all the familiar points on a well-worn path. Not counting the DVD, which contains the final show from Sting’s 2005 Broken Music tour and is heavy on Police material (eight of the ten tracks!), there is nothing unreleased nor is there anything unexpected; some charting singles are missing but they’re the ones that reached the lower rungs of the pop charts or only popped up on rock radio (“Down So Long,” “Epilogue (Nothing ‘Bout Me),” “Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot”), and the various stray songs and B-sides weren’t even in the running for inclusion. What Sting, who selected this sequence himself, has chosen to present are the hits -- from “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” to “Desert Rose” -- supported by album tracks that are concert or fan staples. Not much of a surprise, yet the 45 songs, along with the photo, sketch, and lyric-laden book, do an excellent job of summarizing the spirit of Sting’s years after the Police. If you’re a fan, it’s a classy slice of nostalgia. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Sting - Classical Hits Album

Given Sting’s far-reaching ambition and interests, it was merely a matter of time before he recorded an orchestral album, but 2010’s Symphonicities surprises by offering symphonic arrangements of his older songs instead of a new work. This is a canny move, for the common complaint lodged against rock-classical crossovers is against the quality of the material -- think Paul McCartney or Billy Joel -- a criticism that can’t be leveled here, as this is a selection of some of Sting’s best songs. By relying on his catalog, Sting has wound up with an album that is pop, not classical, in structure, but the sound of Symphonicities is surely symphonic, with “Next to You” driven by sawing strings instead of buzzing guitars. Occasionally, this changes the impact of a song, but rarely does it alter its intent; indeed, there’s a handful of tunes, like “Englishman in New York” and “When We Dance,” that feel unaltered in this larger setting. Naturally, it’s the Police songs that are changed most -- “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” bears a sprightly yet dreamy arrangement, “Roxanne” trades its reggae rhythm for a languid, seductive lilt -- and it’s also on these familiar songs where Sting’s engagement is palpable. He may not be radically reinventing these songs, but he’s certainly reinvigorated by this lush setting, and this energy prevents Symphonicities from falling into pretentious traps; it’s lively and fun, and it’s Sting’s most satisfying record in a long time. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | A&M

Sting really got carried away with the idea that his supporting crew for Dream of the Blue Turtles was a real jazz band, and technically, he was kind of right. He did pluck them straight out of Wynton Marsalis' backing band (thereby angering Wynton and emboldening his anti-rock stance, while flaring up a sibling rivalry between the trumpeter and his saxophonist brother Branford -- a veritable hat trick, that), and since he was initially a jazz bassist, it seemed like a good fit. At the very least, it seemed like a monumental occasion because he documented the entire development of the band and making of Dream with a documentary called Bring on the Night, releasing a double live album as its soundtrack just a year after the debut hit the stores. This could be called hubris (and it will be called that here), especially because the appearance of the live album feels like a way of showcasing Sting's jazz band and jazz chops. Most of the songs run around five minutes long and there are no less than three medleys, two of which marry an old Police number with a tune from Dream. Arriving as a second solo album, it can't help but feel a little unnecessary, even if the loose, rather infectious performances show what Sting was trying to achieve with his debut. Even so, this is a record for the cult, and while it will satisfy them, to others it will seem like, well, hubris. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg

Casual pronouncements are made every so often that the lute songs (the lute is a plucked stringed instrument, an early cousin to the guitar) and madrigals of Elizabethan and Jacobean England were the popular music of their day. And Sting, who alludes to the likes of Vladimir Nabokov in his lyrics, is hardly uneducated in the legacy of fine arts, and he has a certain cerebral, inward sadness that matches the dominant mood of English music around 1600 well enough. Thus some might easily have thought it would be a short leap from Sting's own music to the lute songs of John Dowland (1563-1626). But the leap is anything but short, and Sting gets credit for having thought out fully the problems in making it. It is not just the issue of what pianist Katia Labèque, one of the classical musicians who introduced Sting to Dowland's music, called his "unschooled tenor" -- Dowland's songs are not really difficult. It is the great divide between rock (and other traditions ultimately rooted in Africa) and the European tradition: speaking in generalities, the former prizes "noise" -- sound extraneous to the pitch and to the intended timbre of an instrument or voice -- as a structural element, whereas in the latter it is strenuously eliminated. Sting's voice has plenty of "noise." The listener oriented toward classical music will object to its being there; the rock listener, noting that Sting is singing very quietly, may wonder why there isn't more of it. Why, then, does this album work well on the whole? The short answer is that Sting took 20 years to think about how to interpret the refined melancholy of Dowland songs like "Come, Heavy Sleep." His booklet notes tell the long story of how he happened to make this album, and it's quite an interesting one, involving a "labyrinth" of encounters with Labèque, with the Bosnian lutenist Edin Karamazov, who performs on this album, with a friend who gave Sting a lute inlaid with a labyrinth design based on a pattern in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France (Sting later reproduced the maze in his garden at home), and finally with a Swiss voice teacher who schooled him in pitch precision and the occasional octave run. Sting constructs two crossover points between this temporally remote music and his popular audience. First, he intersperses the songs with selections from Dowland's letters. This has surely been done before, at Elizabethan dinners and the like, and for modern listeners it has the beneficial effect of situating Dowland's music at the center of the social and political life of its time. Sting's second crossover point is more radical: he replaces the melody line in a few of Dowland's verses with multitracked harmonies, apparently consisting entirely of his own voice. These sections appear rather randomly, but they do break up the texture in a way that suggests an additional dimension of modern perspective. Sting passes a key test for vocal music of any kind: he understands and means what he is singing. The real gloomfests among Dowland's songs -- like "Flow My Tears" and the final "In Darkness Let Me Dwell" -- lose none of their power in Sting's performances. And he brings something of his own sense of humor to the lighter ones; a certain smirk in his reading of "Come Again" suggests that he is aware an audience of Dowland's time would have heard the line "To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die with thee again" as a sexual allusion. He sounds like himself, even while purging rock's blues-based treatment of pitch from his singing; he also takes a few turns on the large archlute. And Karamazov proves an ideal collaborator, creating a sharp, edgy tone that stands up to Sting's rough voice. In making Dowland's songs his own, Sting has accomplished something that really has never been done before, and perhaps he'll show some of his own fans that Renaissance music is more than an accompaniment for silly jousting competitions -- it is a labyrinth that leads us toward the roots of our own culture. ~ James Manheim
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Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | A&M

Falling somewhere between the pop sensibilities of Ten Summoner's Tales and the searching ambition of The Soul Cages, Mercury Falling is one of Sting's tighter records, even if it fails to compel as much as his previous solo albums. Though he doesn't flaunt his jazz aspirations as he did in the mid-'80s, Mercury Falling feels more serious than The Dream of the Blue Turtles, primarily because of its reserved, high-class production and execution. Building from surprisingly simple, memorable melodies, Sting creates multi-layered, vaguely soul-influenced arrangements that carry all of the hallmarks of someone who has studied music, not lived it. Of course, there are many pleasures in the record -- for all of his pretensions, Sting remains an engaging melodicist, as well as a clever lyricist. There just happens to be a distinct lack of energy, stemming from the suffocating layers of synthesizers. Mercury Falling is a record of modest pleasures; it's just not an infectious, compulsive listen. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine