The past decade has pretty much found Sting in a nostalgic and thoughtful mood, releasing albums about his childhood home (the 2013 musical The last boat), reworked versions of songs from the Police and solo catalogs (2019 My songs) and, uh, quite a collaboration record with Shaggy (2018 44/876).
Extend this period to the past 15 years and you’ll also find vinyl records of lute music and winter-themed tunes, as well as records containing other reinterpretations of his past. Only one album from this period, and only the second of this century, that of 2016 57th and 9th, came without a high concept descriptor and could be called a simple rock offering.
You can add his 15th LP, The bridge, to the list of refreshing genre-defying works that don’t require knowledge of 17th-century Renaissance music or appreciation from dancehall-pop stars of the mid-90s and early 2000s. Sting is still ruminating – personal loss, pandemic and politics all feature in The bridgesongs from, but he achieves it in ways that are familiar to law enforcement enthusiasts and his early solo works.
The bridge here refers to connections to Sting’s past – the music and memories that shaped him along the way, as well as his connections to various types of songs from around the world. The “Rushing Water” opener is reminiscent of the multi-faceted music he made on Synchronicity and The dream of the blue turtles; “If It’s Love” takes a more pop approach to similar territory.
This travel diary spans The bridgeof 10 songs, spanning continents and genres, from folk to classical, jazz and the world. Sting even borders on the classic police stalker anthem “Every Breath You Take” in “Loving You,” a deceptive Valentine’s Day for an ex: “We made a vow inside the church to forgive each other of our sins, but there are things that I have to endure, like the smell of another man’s skin / If not t ‘love, I don’t know what it is.”
Designed and recorded during containment, The bridge does not present so much a sense of urgency in time as a feeling of not overthinking. Even when he gets tangled up in the lyrics (see “Captain Bateman”), the melodies flow easily, especially during the first half of the LP. It all adds up to Sting’s easiest and most satisfying album in years.
Classified police albums
They’ve only made a handful of records, but all of them offer plenty of rewards.