It probably would have been difficult, circa 1978, for fans of the Police's bouncy, ska-inflected new wave to conceive that Sting, circa 2006, would release an album of madrigals written in the late 1500s and early 1600s by Renaissance composer John Dowland. Yet Sting has always been musically adventurous and possessed of highbrow notions, as his eclectic solo career in the intervening years demonstrated. In a way, Sting's musical journey to Elizabethan England comes as no surprise.
SONGS FROM THE LABYRINTH does not mix pop or genre elements with Dowland's compositions. Instead, this music is faithful to the originals in spirit and sound, and historically accurate in execution and instrumentation. Sting sings, plays guitar and is joined by lutenist Edin Karamazov on a set of Dowland's haunting, minor-key madrigals with their equally haunting lyrics. Instrumental interludes and spoken readings from Dowland's letters are interspersed throughout, and while the exercise may not be to everyone's taste, it is further testament to the stylistic range and ambition of this 20th-century pop icon.
Rolling Stone (p.124) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Sting tables his ponderous lower range and invests these crack tunes with skill and soul."