Picks and Pans Review: Ten Summoner's Tales

updated 03/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

Sting

OK, it's true. Sting is more than just a pretty face. After 15 years of making albums, he has earned a place alongside such restless pop paragons as Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Van Morrison. Unwilling to put out retreads of the same album every two years, Sting and these artists continually push in new directions, challenging fans and themselves.

After his successive Police pop, jazz and Brecht-Weill phases, Sting is shifting directions again with Ten Summoner's Tales. Don't be put off by the ponderous title. With this record, Sting re-enters the mellifluous pop arena with a vengeance.

Although his lyrics are sometimes cumbersome ("He deals the cards to find the answer/ The sacred geometry of chance/ The hidden law of probable outcome") and Sting's cleverness is more in evidence than his passion in this collection, the music flows simply and sweetly throughout. The trenchant ballad "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" is a skeptic's declaration of romantic devotion and Sting's most-likely-to-be-a-hit release in years. "Heavy Cloud, No Rain" is a clipped, hepcat stroll reminiscent of Steely Dan. "Shape of My Heart" is as luminously lovely as a hymn played on a harp. With Ten Summoner's Tales, Sting proves he really is a breed apart from the haircut-and-video boys. (A&M)

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