Brent Black / www.bop-n-jazz.com
I do like to take the occasional sonic side road and stick a toe in what is attempting to pass as the rising tide of pop music. Sting has seemingly been hiding out in the pop music witness protection program with this his first release of all new material in a decade. Actually Sting has released a live recording, a traditional English Christmas recording, and a symphonic recording and all three were forgettable to be kind. The Last Ship is being billed by many as a continuation of the 1991 release The Soul Cages. I prefer to think of The Last Ship as Dream of the Blue Turtles all grown up. Bottom line is if you are under forty then you will probably struggle with the life lessons examined in this incredibly moving release.
The Soul Cages while ahead of it's musical time by about a decade was somewhat panned by critics despite having several highly successful album tracks. The Last Ship is the prelude for the upcoming Broadway musical of the same name and while the references to The Soul Cages may be fundamentally correct, this is Sting all grown up. The more melancholy Soul Cages has been replaced by a more grounded optimism with The Last Ship. A solo release or the soundtrack to a play? Pick your poison as there is no wrong answer here. Hardcore Sting fans should flock to this release. Those under 40 simply won't get it, they can stick with Miley Cyrus or Katie Perry. Despite some less the memorable outings of late, Sting continues to tour and work as extensively as ever. Now Sting has a prolific creative outpouring of emotion that all writers can identify with. At one point questioning his own passion, looking deep inside yourself and finding that special key to unlock your own soul cage can bring breathtaking results. The sound? Pop oriented traditional English folk music goes Broadway. World music that can actually sell.
Addressing personal demons of life and love combined with the elusive expectations of the same could sum up the review of The Last Ship in one sentence.
No one wins a race against father time.
Tracks: The Last Ship; Dead Man's Boots; And Yet; August Winds; Language of Birds; Practical Arrangement; The Night The Pugilist Learned How To Dance; Ballad Of The Great Eastern; What Have We Got? (Featuring Jimmy Nail); I Love Her But She Loves Someone Else; So To Speak (Featuring Becky Unthank); The Last Ship (Reprise).
Special Guest Brian Johnson from AC/DC...