Songs From The Labyrinth

Here, Sting and Lutenist Edin Karamazov construct "a soundtrack in words and music" to the life of John Dowland (1563-1626), the Catholic English composer and musician who was jilted by his own queen as he became a star in European courts. Sting conceives Dowland as a Renaissance Nick Drake, a tortured dude who transcends personal agony with sublime composition. For much of the album, Sting delights in making nostalgic music that sounds exquisitely weathered — you can almost hear the Elizabethan leaves rustling in the background. Things get more interesting, though, when he finds the timelessness in the music. On "Come Again," "Wilt Thou Unkind Thus Leave Me" and Dowland's famous "In Darkness Let Me Dwell," Sting tables his ponderous lower range and invests these crack tunes with skill and soul. This is not old music for new Jaguar drivers.