Named after the location of the Manhattan studio in which it was recorded, 57th & 9th is Sting’s first rock album in years. I Can’t Stop Thinking About You has the punchy chorus and driving bass of the Police circa 1980, while If You Can’t Love Me has an echo of the creepy narrator of Every Breath You Take. There’s a strong whiff of the 1980s, too, on the Wembley-sized plod of 50,000, a song about the absurdities of being an aged rock star: “Where did I put my spectacles case?” The start of Sting’s career is the subject of Heading South on the Great North Road, on which he is accompanied by a single acoustic guitar, a moment of respite from the album’s bluster. More cumbersome is Pretty Young Soldier, a tale of a military romance. On his song Inshallah, Sting sings about the refugee crisis and the Syrian civil war. Many readers might find that last sentence chilling – but the song is more mournful than preachy.
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