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Album review: Sting’s ‘Symphonicities’

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Leave it to Sting to join the current craze for big-band albums not with a set of standards or cool-hunting covers but with a collection of his own songs. Even during his early days with the Police, Sting carried himself with the assured air of someone whose artistic significance was a long-established fact; a couple of decades later, he gives the impression that a search for deeper, more worthwhile material simply yielded no results.

Yet if Sting’s confidence can sometimes come across as arrogance, it’s also what makes “Symphonicities” work: Here’s a songwriter with enough belief in his creations to risk radically retooling them. Accompanied by London’s Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (with whom he’s in the midst of a world tour), Sting reimagines “Roxanne” as a lush Latin ballad and gives “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” a swelling Celtic thrust.

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Not everything on the 12-track disc is such a departure: “Englishman in New York,” for instance, sounds more or less like the original studio version, as does “You Will Be My Ain True Love,” the singer’s Appalachia-inspired contribution to the film “Cold Mountain.” For those selections, perhaps Sting concluded that perfection hardly needed improving.

-- Mikael Wood

Sting

“Symphonicities”

Deutsche Grammophon

Three stars (out of four)


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