All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

38

Sting: 57th & 9th

Nenad Georgievski By

Sign in to view read count
Throughout his long and illustrious career, Sting has enjoyed an enviable set of circumstances. Not only does he have total artistic freedom but he has been accompanied by elite musicians and has a devoted, global fan base. In return, that has yielded many artistic triumphs as he explored almost every genre known to man. He has been eclectic in his choice of inspiration which is filtered through an ever expansive musical worldview. That incorporates all kinds of sounds and music from pop and jazz to classical, medieval and world music. His new album 57th &9th reveals a restless and uncompromising creative spirit that makes music that still pulses with life and vigor.

Musically, 57th &9th is predominantly painted with the primal colors of rock music: rollicking drums, fizzing guitars and fluid bass lines. The first several songs roar straight out of the box. It's been a while since he sounded this energized and unfettered. Producer (and Sting's manager) Martin Kierszenbaum's sparse and raw production is a welcome change of pace for Sting whose previous work often slipped into the quiet, hushed and comfortable. The energy is tough and lean and he has never sounded this raw, urgent, and edgy since his early days with his band The Police. Sonically, this record does not break any drastically new sonic frontiers for him but these kinds of fast-paced rockier songs have been heard only occasionally on his records with "After the Rain Has Fallen" from Brand New Day (A&M, 1999) "All This Time" Soul Cages, ( A&M, 1991) as examples. The music is driven by a working band of many years and also welcomes other guests to make this recording special. While they rock and sound urgent they don't just bash it away. A band of this caliber is capable of stirring up wild grooves, but here they respond sensitively to Sting's vocal lines, dynamics and conjuring varying dynamics within the songs.

Most importantly, 57th & 9th is dominated by outstanding songwriting. It is another masterclass in the potential potency of lyrics, melodies, and performance from an enduring songwriting master. At heart, Sting is an unequivocally a soul singer and musician. He always sings with great conviction, always drawing you in the story, like having a conversation with an old friend of yours. In contrast to his previous output, the autobiographical and reflective The Last Ship, (A&M, 2013) Sting is utterly engaged in the present, dealing with subjects such as social injustice and the horrors of refugees ("Inshallah"), pondering about climate change and environmental issues ("One Fine Day") or contemplating the passing of colleagues and close friends such as singers David Bowie, Prince or actor Alan Rickman ("50.000") .

The quality of each song is consistently good with peaks and valleys in between. "If You Can't Love Me" is one of the many finest moments here. It is a tender mid-tempo ballad offered with the no-nonsense conviction that reveals love may be beyond the measurement of the rational. It's a love song that is achingly sincere without being invasive. The album closes, gorgeously, with a hushed ballad "Empty Chair" that deals with the subject of a loss. It's a song written for Jim: The James Foley Story, a documentary about a US journalist that was publicly executed by terrorists in Syria. The tone of the song is delicate and graceful. Sting's voice barely raises throughout, yet he manages to convey more emotion than ever before.

57th & 9th is a master course in songwriting. Sting has created timeless songs that feel organic, heartfelt and important now, but which will sound as magnificent in the decades to come as they sound today.

Track Listing: I Can't Stop Thinking About You; Fifty Thousand; Down, Down, Down; One Fine Day; The Pretty Young Soldier; Petrol Head; Heading South On The Great North Road; If You Can't Love Me; Inshallah; The Empty Chair.

Personnel: Sting: bass, guitars, vocals; Dominic Miller: guitars; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Rhani Krija: percussion; Martin Kierszenbaum: keyboards; Lyle Workman: guitar; Josh Freese: drums; Jerry Fuentes (of The Last Bandoleros), Diego Navaira (of The Last Bandoleros); Razan Nassreddine: additional vocals; Hazem Nassreddine: qanun; Marion Enachescu: violin; Jean-Baptiste Moussarie: guitar; Salam Al Hassan: percussion; Accad Al Saed: percussion; Thabet Azzawi: oud; Nadim Sarrouh: oud; Nabil Al Chami: clarinet; Jo Lawry: backing vocals.

Title: 57th & 9th | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: A&M Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Smart Grid CD/LP/Track Review
Smart Grid
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 16, 2018
Read Monochrome CD/LP/Track Review
Monochrome
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 16, 2018
Read Attitude Manouche CD/LP/Track Review
Attitude Manouche
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 16, 2018
Read Geometry of Caves CD/LP/Track Review
Geometry of Caves
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 16, 2018
Read This World of Dew CD/LP/Track Review
This World of Dew
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 16, 2018
Read Gegenschein CD/LP/Track Review
Gegenschein
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 15, 2018
Read "Some Other Time/Slow Café" CD/LP/Track Review Some Other Time/Slow Café
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn" CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Ten Billion Versions of Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Ten Billion Versions of Reality
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Naacal" CD/LP/Track Review Naacal
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 25, 2018
Read "Lattice" CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Both Sides Of The Sky" CD/LP/Track Review Both Sides Of The Sky
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: March 17, 2018