The Bridge

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The Bridge Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Sting conceived of the concept of The Bridge after he completed its recording. Looking back at the polished, subtly and familiarly adventurous pop songs he composed, he realized the connecting thread between the tunes was connection itself -- bridges between cultures, people, and eras, with water imagery alternating between comfort and danger. It takes some close listening to discern these elements of The Bridge, as it plays as smoothly as anything he's released in the 21st century. Happily, he retains the melodic sharpness that characterized 57th & 9th, his last solo album of straight-forward pop tunes. The Bridge isn't quite as crisp and clean as that 2016 effort, yet it moves along at a quick clip -- the entire album clocks in at 36 minutes, while the deluxe version that contains a cover of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" and the lite funk instrumental "Captain Bateman's Basement" is a mere 45 -- and that swiftness helps individual moments land. It helps that Sting makes sideways nods at his past, whether it's the percolating rhythms of "Rushing Water," inviting Branford Marsalis for a solo spot on "Harmony," or how the gentle fingerpicking of "For Her Love" evokes "Fragile." Instead of highlighting the distance between now and then, these allusions clarify Sting's persistent interests and act as an illustration of his central conceptual conceit: at these moments, it feels as if The Bridge itself is a bridge between the singer/songwriter's past and present.

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