It’s sad to realize that Sting hasn’t released a truly great album since 1999’s Brand New Day. Indeed, ever since 2003’s Sacred Love—his last original project and a so-so effort—Sting’s career has grown increasingly self-indulgent and redundant. Aside from a successful reunion tour with The Police, there’s only been an album of lute music (!), a Christmas (sorry, “wintertime”) project, and now this, another repackaging of past songs.
Well, sort of. Symphonicities runs with the idea that great songs transcend genre. So teaming up with conductors Rob Mathes (Celine Dion, MercyMe) and Steve Mercurio (Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli), Sting has reworked several of his songs—solo and Police, hits and b-sides—for orchestral arrangements and an accompanying tour.
Now I’ve heard many a great album where artists truly alter their songs to accommodate classical, jazz, electronic, or even simply acoustic genres. The chief problem here is that the songs really haven’t changed all that much to suit the genre. Instead, it’s more like Sting and co-producer Mathes bended the orchestra to the songs. The results are often predictable, though some songs certainly benefit from this experiment more than others.