en: Songs from the Labyrinth [info]
It's the same old story: Established, middle aged rock star gets a lute as a present and he's suddenly turning out an album composed of nothing but the lovely sixteenth century tunes of John Dowland; what's more, on a classical label! *Songs From The Labyrinth *is definitely more of a case of 'show me the lute'...
While Mr Sumner may be stretching the point when he says "He was really the first singer/songwriter we know of, so a lot of us owe our living to this man," it is true that Dowland's work has plenty of modern fans. His most famous song, "Flow My Tears" was the inspiration for Phillip K Dick's novel Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, while Elvis Costello has also recorded his works. If it's true that this album will probably not wholly please either Sting fans or those of Early Music, it's also true that music this good is almost impossible to ruin.
The problems arise with Sting's very, well...Stingness. His voice, a marvellously expressive pop tool, is so unmistakeable that its compressed modernity invariably jars with the spacious, warm lute playing of Bosnian, Edin Karamazov. No matter how well he annunciates (and how many Tudor mansions he lives in), he's too recognisable to really take on the mantle of court minstrel. Still, this is far from a failed experiment. His love and understanding of Dowland's work is obvious (though the jury's still out on the rather mannered readings of Dowland's letters between tracks). In the end, if this album introduces a whole new audience to one of the greatest musicians of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras it can only be counted as a good thing.