...Nothing Like The Sun
A&M Records, 1987
REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/20/2007
Gone is much of the art-jazz pretentiousness of Blue Turtles and the dour and sullen tone of Soul Cages, Sting’s “death” album. What’s left are some of the most intelligent lyrics he’s ever written and the most emotionally satisfying music he’s ever composed.
From the lilting sweep of Branford Marsalis’ saxophone that levitates the opening song, “The Lazarus Heart,” to Ken Helman’s understated piano on the closer, “The Secret Marriage,” …Nothing Like The Sun never is less than listenable.
As a man trying not to fall in love, the narrator of “Be Still My Beating Heart” urges caution based on his past failed love affairs – even as he moves step by step closer to giving his heart again. He acknowledges the futility of running from love: “I sink like a stone that’s been thrown in the ocean / My logic has drowned in a sea of emotion.”
When I initially heard “Englishman In New York,” I dismissed it as a nice little trifle – and it is constructed to feel that way. But underneath the veneer of the song is an important message about being “yourself no matter what they say.”
Before settling in at the album’s emotional and musical highlight, the exquisitely realized “Fragile,” Sting makes us slog through the irredeemable “History Will Teach Us Nothing” and the beautiful and emotional, but overlong, “They Dance Alone (Gueca Solo).”
“Fragile” has always been my favorite song from this album. It is one of those songs that feeds the soul, as well as the ears. But it seared itself into my brain after 9/11. The live version, recorded on the disc All This Time (2001), was recorded after the Twin Towers fell and while the entire country was still in shock. The lyrics took on mythic life at that point.
“If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one / Drying in the colour of the evening sun / Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stain away / But something in our minds will always stay / On and on the rain will fall / … How fragile we are.”
From that midpoint, the disc falters here and there but largely finishes strong. The big single, and the only really up-tempo song, “We’ll Be Together,” starts the second half off well, but “Rock Steady” and an odd cover of Jimi Hendrix’ “Little Wing” are throwaways. Sting wouldn’t make another disc this good until Ten Summoner’s Tales (1993) – and it’s been largely downhill since then.