The Last Ship

Sting

Cherrytree/Interscope/A&M Records, 2013

http://www.sting.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/03/2013

Few artists will ever be able to say they were so successful that they could literally make an album of whatever genre they wanted, no matter how unmarketable, and people will still stand in line to hear it. Thankfully, despite his unimaginable fame, Sting has used his leverage to make consistently interesting and engaging sounds across the entire rock spectrum, even if fans have raised an eyebrow or two along the way. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

His first album of new material in a decade, The Last Ship is a project penned for the stage (coming to Broadway in 2014) and is a look into Sting's youth being raised in the coastal town Wallsend. It explores themes like homecoming and self-discovery and how they relate to the British Shipyard community in the '80s, and fittingly, the reflective songwriting often sounds like an English folk album. 

The lead off and title track shows Irish influences immediately with the vocal delivery, a theme that remains consistent throughout. This sets the tone well, as there aren't too many tracks here that would fit the mold of radio singles, and two of the strongest tracks "And Yet” and “Practical Arrangement” would likely never see commercial success. The former takes on jazzy sounds and the latter is an odd ballad with pianos and strings, both illustrating Sting's massive versatility. The contributors included add much to the album; one standout is “So To Speak,” a gorgeous duet with Becky Unthank. The big surprise is AC/DC's Brian Johnson, who also makes an appearance or two, though he abandons his hard rock past for the accordion and acoustic guitars of "Sky Hooks And Tartan Paint." Though there isn't a low point here, a couple of the more noteworthy moments include the harmonica of "Dead Man's Shoes" and the guitar waltz of "I Love Her But She Loves Someone Else."

After years of staying busy with reunions, covers and reissues and with less interest in birthing new material, Sting's creativity is in full bloom here, showing a whole lot of depth. At 62, much like how he is aging physically, Sting's music is following a similar path through with grace, elegance and rich with emotion, impact and timelessness.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Cherrytree/Interscope/A&M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.