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Sting – If on a Winter’s Night

November 26, 2010 by  

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Sting – If on a Winter’s Night

NAME: Sting
ALBUM: If on a Winter’s Night
DATE: 2November2010

LABEL: Deutsche grammophon


FIVE WORD REVIEW: Wintry songs, with warm production.


LINE UP: Sting, Guitar and Vocals, Dominic Miller, Guitars, Mary McMaster Harp and Vocals, Kathryn Ticekll, Violin and Northumbrian Smal Pipes, Julian Sutton, Melodeon, Bijan Chemirani, percussion, Ira Coleman, Bass, Ibrahim Maalouf, Trumpet, Cyro Baptista, Percussion, and various other guest musicians.


It is probably a problem that strikes many a musician of a certain age. Too old for Pop, not old enough for classical, so they strike a balance between the two.

McCartney has done it, and so has Sting, although If on a Winter’s Night has received better reviews than his previous acoustic album, Tales from the Labyrinth. After putting the Police to bed, with their reputations still intact, he picks up an acoustic guitar, and along with a cast of other musicians has revisited Pagan themes.

There are no songs of a jolly Christmas time here. He has not covered songs by Slade, or god forbid Shakin Stevens, or even Cliff Richard. Whilst the Pogues ‘Fairytale of New York’ is a bleak song, it seems as cheery as Dicken’s Mr Fezziwig in comparison to the songs on this album.

It fuses traditional folk instruments, such as guitars and mandolins, with Katherine Tickell’s haunting Northumbrian pipes and Mary McMaster’s dazzling harp playing alongside ethnic percussion and tight harmony vocals, with Sting multi-tracking many of his vocals to good effect.

Songs such as ‘Gabriel’s Message’, ‘There is no No Rose of such virtue’ and ‘The Snow it melts the soonest’ are ballads of simplicity, whilst ‘Soul Cake’ features a brass band playing ‘God Rest ye merry gentlemen’ juxtaposed against sentiments of sorrow.

‘Christmas at sea’ has telling contributions from Mary McMaster on Harp and Gaelic vocals, whilst Sting’s Jazz leanings are revealed on ‘The Burning Babe’ which has a story line that comes straight out of a deeply unpleasant film, if only it were written in more modern times.

This is a good distraction, and in doing away with the enforced jollity of many Christmas albums, Sting has reminded us that there is more to this time of year than Dickens would have us believe.

SOUNDS LIKE: Christmas would sound without the sentimentality.

YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: you like music that takes from all genres, and ends up sounding like nothing else.


Submitted By Ben76



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