Given Sting’s far-reaching ambition and interests, it was merely a matter of time before he recorded an orchestral album, but 2010’s Symphonicities surprises by offering symphonic arrangements of his older songs instead of a new work. This is a canny move, for the common complaint lodged against rock-classical crossovers is against the quality of the material -- think Paul McCartney or Billy Joel -- a criticism that can’t be leveled here, as this is a selection of some of Sting’s best songs. By relying on his catalog, Sting wound up with an album that is pop, not classical, in structure, but the sound of Symphonicities is surely symphonic, with “Next to You” driven by sawing strings instead of buzzing guitars.
Sting's been on a creative tear since the Police reunion. He's probably washing away some of the dirt that cashing in that mega-paycheque left on his soul. First it was his "seasonal album" of obscure traditional folk tunes (not to be confused with a Xmas offering, though it came out last December), and now this collaboration with London's Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
“It’s good to be Sting. I do feel a little bit like Louis XVI, sometimes.” Sting admitted this on 60 Minutes II back in 2003, and he’s right. Sting has the luxury of a tolerant audience, and regardless of what you think of his recent activity, you have to admit that he must be doing something to keep his fans happy. In the span of almost ten years, his devoted flock have persevered through two adult-contemporary albums produced by Kipper, a collection of Elizabethan lute music, a gloomy package of obscure Christmas (i.e.
Is it possible that Sting made 2006’s lute-powered Songs From the Labyrinth just so the orchestra-featuring revamps of his back catalog contained here would seem less pretentious by comparison? If so, the plan hasn’t worked — there are only a few moments when Symphonicities doesn’t seem completely preposterous. Worst of all is a string-slathered version of ”Roxanne” that strips the pop classic of its reggaefied beat, its stench of narrative desperation, and its entire appeal. D See all of this week’s reviews .