Sacred Love (A&M)
The blurb that accompanies this, Sting's seventh studio album, makes much of his artistic reaction to 'September 11'.
'I had to consider my position as a songwriter ... there's something happening in the human spirit,' he says. The result is Sacred Love, a difficult follow-up to the beautiful late 1999 minor classic Brand New Day.
His response is a disappointment. Why? Because, for all its slick production, it just doesn't have the songs. It's as if Sting felt the pressure to get an album out before he was ready. It just doesn't come across as heartfelt.
You won't find a Russians, an Englishman In New York or that gorgeous Desert Rose here. This is formulaic pop. That 'third person thing' Sting does needs to hit just the right spot. A woman of the night's monologue in Tomorrow We'll See from Brand New Day works, the confessions of a hot-wiring thief on Stolen Car [Take Me Dancing] do not.
And somebody tell me please, what is the live version of Shape Of My Heart doing on this album? A filler? An indulgence? Answers on a postcard please.
Not that Sacred Love doesn't have its moments of AOR clarity; the classical guitar intro to Send Your Love is sweet, the jazz piano on Never Coming Home wonderful, and the duet with gun-for-hire Mary J. Blige on Whenever I Say Your Name is as good as it gets here.
So what exactly happened? There's no great mystery, as he points out in the press release: 'Mentally, this was a very tough record to make. At first, I just wasn't in the mood to write songs,' Sting says. Well, it shows, he should have waited. He's broken the law of creativity. Somebody call The Police.