Brand New Day
First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2000, Volume 7, #1
Written by John Metzger
Since leaving The Police, Sting has carved out quite a niche for himself on the pop music scene. Picking up where his former band's final album (Synchronicity) left off, Sting has moved further into the lighter realm of perfectly pleasant pop than he first explored on songs like Wrapped Around Your Finger and Every Breath You Take. As a solo artist, he, with the help of saxophonist Branford Marsalis, began to fold in an array of jazz influences to form the basis for his new sound, which culminated with his last effort Mercury Falling.
Brand New Day is Sting's latest offering, and once again he has begun to shift directions. Just within the confines of Fill Her Up, he jumps from country-rock to airy pop before the song concludes with a gospel flair. Somehow he makes this work. Other musical terrains explored on the album include the atmospheric, Bryan Ferry-like dreamscape of A Thousand Years and the sublime heady swirl of Desert Rose. Each carries a multicultural panache that seems geared towards bringing together a world that is at the brink of passing from one century into the next.
Even the song cycle seems geared towards this passage of time and the dawning of a brand new day. Witness the titles of the first and last tracks on this album (A Thousand Years and the title track). Sandwiched in between are songs of love, compassion, and understanding. It's as if Sting is trying to draw the world together as one — something John Lennon envisioned long ago.
However, Sting's concept ends up unraveling as his lyrics delve more into the relationships between two people than into the overlying postulation he proposes with his song titles and the layout of this album. While it's true that any change is going to come on an individual level, Sting takes this idea too far. It's almost as if millennium-fever struck (a year early no less), and he felt obligated to jump on the bandwagon with a batch of songs he had already written.
Making matters worse, it's a bit difficult to stomach Sting tossing off lyrics like "I'm the plough and you're the land/You're the glove and I'm the hand/I'm the train and you're the station/I'm the flagpole to your nation." We already know more than we need to know about the man's sex life, and now it looks like Peter Gabriel's corner of the market has been invaded.
There's no doubt that Sting will rebound from this album. He always has before, and it's not like Brand New Day is really a bad album. In fact, parts of it are quite good. It's just not on par with some of his other outings. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box