Sound — 8
What can I say? Sting knows what he's doing when it comes to this department. For those who don't know, or who haven't noticed, Sting is a person who is constantly moving musically, changing musical direction. This is clearly evident with his previous two Police releases; becoming heavily synth influenced with Ghost In The Machine, and taking ever more different musical styles with Synchronicity. This album, Dream of The Blue Turtles (his first full solo album), continues with the feel of some of the tracks within Synchronicity. This album contains some of the best African-American session players around at the time, which really shows through on the recording. The keyboards (played by the late Kenny Kirkland) are suited to the music perfectly. The drum, bass and saxaphone players are all just as faultless. And Sting? A change from his possition in The Police; he's on guitar (with the excption of "Moon Over Bourbon Street" where he plays bass). The tracks themselves are well composed and feel quite well thought-out. The whole sound of it, however, feels quite dated now; All the heavy keyboards, heavy reverb on a lot of the drums, saxaphone and vocals. This may be quite off-putting for people in this day and age. If you can look past that then the musicianship itself has to be admired. The sound is quite varied throughout, keeping the album fairly diverse. The album opens with a jazzy-pop number (the major single from this album), If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free. This is followed by the reggae-influenced song, Love Is The Seventh Wave. Then comes Russians, which is originally written by Russian composer Sergie Prokoiev; Sting simply put lyrics to it. This gives a fairly good example of how diverse the sound is... Other styles that are explored in this album are rock (Fortress Around Your Heart) and further jazz (Moon Over Bourbon Street - very theatrical, with a beautiful walking bass-line - and Dream of The Blue Turtles - which has a free-jazz section in it)
Lyrics — 10
I could never fault Sting's vocals. He makes singing some of these songs (which would otherwise be challenging for a lot of singers) sound effortless. On top of this, the vocal harmonies that he has composed for these pieces are flawless. He does do most of them, but on the opening track, for example, he has two black female vocalists singing with him, giving the song a real jazzy touch. It works really well, I think. The lyrics to each song all seem to tell a great story every time. One redemption in love, one based on Interview With A Vampire, one based on something as simple as seeing a Russian children's TV program (I know this from reading Lyrics by Sting - a book citing his entire lyrical history - I have also done a review of this). I think anybody can find something interesting to draw from what you hear on here.
Overall Impression — 9
I really like this album, I've got to say. It is clear, however, that Sting is a little lost without his regular band behind him. He's still finding his feet in a way. You recognise this when you listen to this album then compare it to later efforts, like "Ten Summoners Tales" and "...Nothing Like The Sun". The later stuff sounds a lot more 'complete', in a way. If you like the weirder stuff off Synchronicity (like Synchronicity I and O My God), or if you enjoy Sting in general, then I'm sure there's something about this album that you'd enjoy.