Monday, November 14, 2016

57th and 9th (2016), by Sting

CD Fan Review

Not only is 57th and 9th Sting's first pop/rock album in over a decade, but it is also his first release as a senior citizen. (Sting is 65?! When did that happen?!)

In addition, this is Sting's first pop/rock record without synthesizers and horns.

So, aside from some piano and organ, as well as some extra instrumentation and orchestration on a deluxe edition bonus track, this is basically a guitar, bass, and drums affair, resulting in a different sound from Sting, or at least one we haven't heard from him in a while.

Featuring Sting's typically excellent bass work and standout performances from guitarists Dominic Miller and Lyle Workman and drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Josh Freese (as well as some guitars and vocals from The Last Bandoleros), the songs have the feel of a mix of early raw Police, garage band rock, college radio, and '90s alt rock.

A couple of tunes even sound like modern Monkees songs. Yes, that's right. The Monkees. My two favorite tracks, “One Fine Day” and “Pretty Young Soldier,” could fit perfectly on The Monkees' 2016 album, Good Times! Sting would make a fine Monkee.

The most punk raucous song here, “Petrol Head,” is a mash-up of The Police's “Demolition Man” and Sting's “Love Is Stronger Than Justice.”

The record also features the requisite “slow” Sting songs, and while they're not quite on the level of his past pensive masterpieces (you know what those are), they're instant classics and worthy additions to his introspective repertoire.

Sting's voice here has a grit and grizzle indicative of his age, and although the album lacks the ethereal quality of his synthesizers and—for the most part—his multi-tracked multi-register vocals, Sting still sounds like Sting. And if you're a Sting fan, that's all that matters.

57th and 9th ultimately shapes up as Sting's best collection of original pop material since the 1990s.

Now if only Sting would combine his songwriting, bass playing, and singing on this album with Andy Summers' songwriting and guitar work on Circa Zero's Circus Hero (2014), and Stewart Copeland joined in on drums …

--Raj Manoharan

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