Happy 25th Anniversary to Sting’s fourth solo studio album Ten Summoner’s Tales, originally released March 9, 1993.
Elvis, Cher, Prince, Sade—their one-word names signify all that they're musically and culturally about. British rocker Sting should be included among these musical icons as well. Born Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, this former Police band member ventured into his solo career in 1985 and has produced twelve albums to date, including his fantastic, multi Grammy Award winning fourth studio LP Ten Summoner’s Tales, released 25 years ago. His music is like buying your favorite meal. You know what you're going to get, it's satisfying and you'll get it again.
With The Police and as a solo artist, Sting has mixed elements of jazz, soft rock, New Wave and reggae, usually with a mournful or hard-hitting tone. However, this album has a softer edge than his previous ones. Even the title hits a light note, with it being a play on his family name, Sumner, and a tribute to the summoner from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.
The twelve tracks explore everything from love to loss to morality. The two chart toppers from the album are "If Ever I Lose My Faith in You" and "Fields of Gold," landing at #17 and #23 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100. All the songs could be themes for The Canterbury Tales. For example, "Love is Stronger than Justice," "Seven Days" and "Saint Augustine in Hell" convey Sting's inner journey just as Chaucer's tales explored his characters' excursions. The music is uncomplicated, hopeful yet elegiac, and sun-kissed with Sting's grainy voice.
On its 25th anniversary, Ten Summoner's Tales highlights the troubadour skills of the "Englishman in New York” and is just as golden today as when it first dropped. In a time when pop music is about shock value more than content, Ten Summoner's Tales hits the ears like a musical audiobook: a series of songs that tell a tale in sequence, delighting us in the storyteller’s soulful expedition. The album does Chaucer and the Mr. Sumner proud.