Country inspired

Music review

Country inspired

After a gap of a decade, Sting has come out with his 11th album, springing a surprise. His last album was Sacred Love (2003). The 12 songs explore the themes of homecoming and self-discovery, drawing on his memory of growing up in the ship-building town of Wallsend.

Sting is known to have experimented successfully with music in the past. For instance, Desert Rose, which featured Cheb Mami with a distinct sound of Arabic music. Sting is no longer the pop star he was, now his songs have stories. The songs are folksy, small town, rustic, working class. They also have a jazzy and classical touch. If the songs sound a little operatic and dramatic, it is because they were written for a broadway play of the same name.

The opening title song, The Last Ship, is an elegy to the decline and fall of the ship-building industry in Newcastle (Oh the roar of the chains and the cracking of timbers,/ The noise at the end of the world in your ears,/ As a mountain of steel makes its way to the sea,/ And the last ship sails). The emphasis is on the vocals with sparing use of instruments. In this and other songs, the plain folksy melodies are accompanied by accordion and pipes. There is a reprise of the title song.

And Yet is a song about homecoming (The tide rolls back and all my memories fade to black/ And yet...and yet I am back).

Dead Man’s Boots is a two-part song about a father urging his son to take up the family calling, while the son decides to rebel. And So to Speak is a soulful duet with Becky Unthank. The last ship might have sailed, but Sting still has some wind in his sails.

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