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World Music CD Reviews North American

Sting

By Jeff Tamarkin
Published April 24, 2007

Songs From the Labyrinth
Deutsche Grammophon

Songs From The Labyrinth takes ye olde pompous and pretentious one to new levels of pomposity and pretension. Accompanied by lutenist—that’s someone who plays a lute—Edin Karamazov, the S-man brings the music of John Dowland (1563-1626), who some say was the first English songwriter, into the modern world. Well, not really— Songs From The Labyrinth falls into the early music category, probably sounding much like it did 400-plus years ago; or anyway, how it might’ve if Dowland employed an affected, self-reverent vocal style. The lute itself is quite pretty, and Sting (who punctuates the songs with readings from a 1595 letter Dowland wrote attempting to get a gig with the first Queen Elizabeth), does deserve some props for going out on such a long limb. But Songs From The Labyrinth will go over big with those who attend Renaissance Faires for the music, and leave everyone else cold.