The concept of a remastered album can carry positive and negative connotations. It really all depends on the artist’s and fan’s perspective. Is the project making an actual attempt to produce something brand-new? Or does every song present itself as a greatest hits collective?
Unfortunately, Sting’s newest record, My Songs (calling it new is debatable honestly) falls in the latter category. The lead singer from the legendary rock band The Police assembles a variety of different tracks from his band and solo days, all between the years of 1977 and 1993. The songs themselves are some of Sting’s best, but his intentions for re-hashing them appear painstakingly unclear.
Out of all 15 tracks, only two have noticeable changes (“Englishman in New York,” and “Fragile”). Even those have very subtle percussion or volume changes; almost to the point where they’re inaudible. Timeless hits like 1983’s “Every Breath You Take” and 1977’s “Can’t Lose You” are present on the album…for zero reasons. And that’s mainly the case for every ballad on My Songs. There’s barely a difference between Sting’s original versions and the contemporary interpretations of these tracks.
In fact, the very little changes Sting does make turn out obnoxious and wildly dis-ingenuous. He’s not doing this for the love of art. Instead, he’s tricking people into believing that this is some kind of Police comeback. It’s nostalgia in its worst form. Sting plays this album off as if it’s some kind of creative epiphany, when really it’s just a lazy attempt at winning fans over after the abysmal collaboration with Shaggy last year. That Reggae-inspired nightmare was at least ambitious in nature; the music was just bad.
This is also Sting’s second attempt at a re-mastered project, the first coming in 2010 (Symphonicities). Oddly enough, some of the same tracks on My Songs appeared in a relatively different form on the first go-around. “Englishman in New York” contains an excellent pain performance in the background, an authenticity that’s generally lacking throughout My Songs.
The record’s loss of resourcefulness is a perfect representation of how irrelevant the Police singer has become. The undeniably catchy “Brand New Day” and Indian-inspired “Desert Rose” entirely captures Sting’s past experimentation in a nutshell. But with little to no nuance. From a song structure standpoint, there’s not much to review here. This album presents itself better as a Greatest Hits anthology, even if it wasn’t Sting’s initial intention.
The brevity of the title is ironically fitting, especially since that’s all this is…his songs. Nothing less, nothing more. It’s almost as if Sting’s label lost all of his hit ballads, and told the singer/bassist to redo them in 2019. Based on his recent artistic choices, I can actually see him doing that.
The greatest accomplishment to come out of this experience is everyone’s reminder about how insignificant Sting has become amongst a mainstream crowd. He’s not doing much to help this problem either. My Songs is a total waste of time for a variety of reasons. One of them is Sting’s inability to understand that the same song he made twenty or thirty years ago will still be here in the 2010s. Fans still love and cherish those tracks, regardless of what decade it is. You don’t have to remind us how great of a songwriter you were. Unfortunately, Sting’s lack of self-awareness only adds to the toxicity of this album