Universal Records - 2003 - 63 minutes

As an artist, and more noticeably since going solo, Sting hasn't been afraid to experiment with musical styles. As well as the classic ballads 'Fields of Gold', 'Fragile' and 'When We Dance', he has also produced the more exotic, Eastern-influenced 'Desert Rose' and the Caribbean beat of 'Englishman in New York'.

This latest offering from the ex-Police frontman continues that eclectic musical mix. There's a strong R'n'B element to 'Whenever I Say Your Name', a duet with Mary J Blige, and the album's title track, 'Sacred Love', has a distinct Gospel flavour. Also in the collection are the Spanish feel of 'Send Your Love', Oriental overtones to 'The Book of My Life' and there's more up-tempo rock on 'Inside' and 'Forget About the Future'.

Sting does lyrics better than many singer-songwriters. Lines like "Perhaps this final act was meant/To clinch a lifetime's argument/That nothing comes from violence/And nothing ever could" ('Fragile') are typical of Sting at his most poignant. His lyrics examine themes of life, love, death and heartbreak on a deeper, more mature and more complicated level than younger artists like Robbie Williams and Daniel Beddingfield. Sting has achieved a maturity in his work that these performers haven't yet attained. 'This War' and 'Never Coming Home' continue this complex exploration of life and death while 'Dead Man's Rope' and especially 'The Book of My Life' pick up the sincere, contemplative tone.

'Sacred Love' won't appeal to the masses and it's not Sting's best work, but, if you're willing to take the time to decipher it, you will find the album a musically eclectic and sometimes profound listen.

Katie Moten

Tracklisting: Inside - Send Your Love (Featuring Vicente Amigo) - Whenever I say Your Name (Featuring Mary J Blige) - Dead Man's Rope - Never Coming Home - Stolen Car - Forget About the Future - This War - The Book of My Life (Featuring Anoushka Shankar) - Sacred Love - Send Your Love (Dave Andé Remix) - Shape of My Heart (Live) - Like a Beautiful Smile