“Sting and Shaggy Know You’re Confused” read a headline in Forbes when the former Police frontman and reggae mainstay released a collaborative album 44/876, in 2018. From a bird’s-eye view, the pair’s collaboration seemed unlikely, with Sting and The Police being at the forefront of Britain’s 1980s new wave movement and Shaggy being synonymous with a 2000s single about denying infidelity. And yet, anyone intimately familiar with Sting - both as a solo artist and leader of The Police - knows of his decades-long history melding sounds, dabbling in everything from rock to jazz, new-age, the West African raï genre, classical, reggae - the list goes on.
Now, all of Sting‘s decade-spanning collaborations, starting from the early 1990s and up to the present, have been placed together in a wonderful compilation, simply titled Duets, featuring recordings with Mary J. Blige (“Whenever I Say Your Name”), Herbie Hancock (“My Funny Valentine”), Eric Clapton (“It’s Probably Me”), Annie Lennox (“We’ll Be Together”), Charles Aznavour (“L’amour C’est COmme Un Jour”), Mylène Farmer (“Stolen Car”), Shaggy (“Don’t Make Me Wait”), Melody Gardot (“Little Something”), Cheb Mami (“Desert Rose”), and more.
It’s a welcome opportunity to revisit Sting‘s lengthy collaborative resume; if anything, Duets serves as a reminder that not only has the man been doing this for a long time, but when he does team up with a new artist, he strikes just the right balance in letting the featured player shine, and letting the song belong to them as well.
It is generally known that Sting likes to collaborate with artists from all over the map, literally and from a genre perspective. But the point is driven home on Duets and should clear up any so-called “confusion” casual listeners might have the next time he drops a joint effort.
(c) The Independent by Rachel Brodsky