Sting’s latest release, 2016’s ’57th & 9th’, is his first straight ahead rock album in quite some time. In fact, you’d have to go back to 2003’s ‘Sacred Love’ to hear the last time Sting produced anything that had to do with pop or rock music. For the past decade or so, he’s been infatuated with classical music, folk music, jazz, and even sea shanty type music. The burning question then is how will Sting’s return to rock go? Does he still have it in him?
The short answer? Yes. Sting still has a lot of ability to rock. This is evidenced right off the bat on the first track, “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You”, which is probably the best pure pop/rock single released in 2016. A song about a man with a muse, this song is pure melodic bliss. It feels sharp and quick, as if Sting had taken no time away from the rock platform at all. The following track, “50,000”, tells a story of an aging rock star coming to terms with his own mortality. The song, Sting has said in interviews, is a tribute to late fallen icons Lemmy (Motörhead), David Bowie, Glenn Frey (Eagles), and Prince. This is a crucial element of this record that can’t be missed. Sting doesn’t attempt to fool anybody about his age. It’s clear that the recent trend of legendary musicians falling to old age, disease, and other various things has had a profound impact on him. The aforementioned, of course, being friends of his. With that said, by the time we reach “Petrol Head”, Sting lets us know that he isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. This track has just as much get-up-and-go as any track the Police ever released. This is a rocking album and it’s also a mature album.”Insallah”, which is Arabic for “If God wills”, is a track that makes one wonder if Sting is trying to make a political and/or social statement on the way of world relations at the moment. Of course, Sting has always been one of rock music’s most socially conscious artists, proving this once again on the closing track of the record, “The Empty Chair”, which is about an American journalist who was kidnapped and killed by ISIS. This song was also nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Best Original Song’ from the film about James Foley, the kidnapped journalist (‘Jim: The James Foley Story’).
So, needless to say that Sting has released yet another socially conscious record. What’s different this time around is the amount of raw energy and rock n’ roll spirit this record has. Fans of Sting will be pleased without much of a doubt. There really isn’t much of a downside to this record, other than the fact that the standout tracks are much more memorable than some of the lesser tracks, but there isn’t any bad material on this record. As far as Sting records go, you could do worse. This is probably his best record in a very, very long time. However, this record won’t convert any newbies. If you’re someone who doesn’t like Sting, this record probably won’t change your mind. He’s usually apt to get the seal of approval on this end of things.