Sting rediscovers his man of destiny act on his first rock album in a decade
He hasn't gone away, you know . . . After staging a musical based on his childhood in Newcastle, recording a lute album, and undertaking a year-long reunion tour with The Police, the man The Simpsons once referred to as "everyone's favourite one-word celebrity" returns with his first "rock" record in ten years.
Taking its title from the Manhattan street corner that Sting crossed every day on the way to the studio, 57th & 9th is cut between macho guitar posturing, sensitive citizen of the world piety, and bardic musings on war and loneliness. At just 37 minutes duration, it is at least brief.
The best tunes here are cruising rock song I Can't Stop Thinking About You, which lets fly shards of jagged guitar a la Andy Summers, and the chunky and dynamic Down, Down, Down. The almost comical global warming Jeremiah One Fine Day ("three penguins and a bear got drowned") is a far cry from his pained eco-ballad Fragile and a mere two songs later, the frequent flyer goes from eco warrior to road warrior on the gas-guzzling Petrol Head, a song so very bad it would leave Clarkson choking on its banality.
The playing from drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, guitarist Dominic Miller, and Tex-Mex group the Last Bandoleros is beefy and propulsive throughout. There is no denying his gift for strong melodies and several songs here have a thrilling urgency but as ever with the solo Sumner, he is let down by clunky, overreaching lyrics and plodding sincerity.
Back rocking after a decade? Really Sting, you shouldn't have.
Alan Corr @corralan