Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, Sting and more

Sting’s childlike vocals were, like the catchy tunes, reggae beats, understated guitar, and effusive drums, a hallmark of The Police, and this youth never quite abandoned him. Now 70 – an age when most voices deepen, darken, get hoarse, get more wavering, or all four – Sting still sounds like he’s embarking on a career. How is it to do this?

The bridge leads him to regroup his established interests in pop, R&B, folk and a dash of jazz – which could also be described as musical stagnation. Lyrically, meanwhile, Lockdown saw him create contemplative characters often weighing choices, the title bridge being the ineradicable bond between us all. Playing mainly bass, Sting is surrounded by an elegant group comprising guitarist Dominic Miller, keyboardist Martin Kierszenbaum and drummers Manu Katche and Josh Freese.

After the surge of pop-rock Rapids, wind If it’s love compares falling in love to falling ill, when The Book of Numbers is more haunting and would not have moved on The dream of the blue turtles. It’s even better I love you, with Maya Jane Coles (who shares songwriting credit) creating the soundscape for a song about jealousy and infidelity. Harmony Route, written from the perspective of someone wanting to escape the wrong side of the tracks, is lifted with a glorious little soprano saxophone solo by Branford Marsalis.

For his love illustrates Sting’s finest songwriting, and then there are three folk ballads: The hills at the border, Captain Bateman (about the daughter of a jailer visiting a captive naval officer) and Tyne waters. The bells of Saint Thomas has its double bass paired with Katche’s brushes and the slightest sighs of Miller’s guitars, all singing to a beautifully crafted tomorrow’s song, lyrics touching a Rubens painting and the fruits of sin. The understated gem of a title song takes her deep into the lower parts of her voice, and Captain Bateman’s Basement is a lot of fun: a jazz player Captain Bateman, with Sting singing wordlessly in tandem with his bass and the brilliant Katche stretching out a bit. Finally, and surprisingly, comes a charming cover of Sitting on the dock by the bay. If excessive seriousness has sometimes compromised Sting, here he is dismissed by an artist who is still in the prime of his life. JEAN-SHAND


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