Heading South on the Great North Road....
Released November 2016
After dabbling in classical music with "Symphonicities" and writing a musical in "The Last Ship", Sting returned to his more recognisable style of laid-back, sometimes slightly jazzy rock/pop with this appealing album. The street intersection of the title refers to the roads he crossed in New York City on his way to the studio he recorded this album in.
1. I Can't Stop Thinking About You
3. Down, Down, Down
4. One Fine Day
5. Pretty Young Soldier
6. Petrol Head
7. Heading South On The Great North Road
8. If You Can't Love Me
10. The Empty Chair
"I Can't Stop Thinking About You" is an upbeat, riffy rocker that wouldn't have sounded out of place on either of The Police's last three albums. "50,000" is even more riffy in its beginning, before it delivers a quiet verse based on Sting's reactions to the passing of Prince and David Bowie. The chorus comes blasting back in, anthemically. It is a most atmospheric, evocative number. "Down, Down, Down" also has a very Police-esque guitar line underpinning it, together with a nostalgic-sounding chorus.
"One Fine Day" is another very typically Sting piece of pop/rock. Solid and muscular. "Pretty Young Soldier" is a strange, homoerotic historically-based song, while the chunky "Petrol Head" has some heavy passages and some echoes of Bruce Springsteen in places. "Heading South On The Great North Road" is an acoustic, folky tale reflecting Sting's North-Eastern roots. "If You Can't Love Me" is slightly messy in its structure, with a paranoid vocal. Maybe it grows on you, but I find its chorus part a bit discordant.
"Inshallah" is a peaceful, seductively rhythmic number and "The Empty Chair" is a Celtic-influenced folk lament to end this short but interesting album. It is a sensitively-constructed work whose sometimes introspective feel demands several listens.