Sting & Shaggy: 44/876 review – you can practically hear the conch shells

(Polydor)

Like a “what I did on my holidays” school project given a handsome major-label budget, or a Post-It note from a feverish Channel 4 ideas meeting cast with a magical spell, this unlikely partnership sees Sting pair his smooth tones against Shaggy’s raggamuffin ruminations, over lightweight roots reggae and dancehall pop. Halfway into track one and Sting has already invoked the ghost of Bob Marley and given up trying to resist doing a Jah-may-cahn accent – you can almost physically sense the decorative conch shell he got sidetracked into buying on the way to the studio.

The sound of two millionaires fretting non-specifically about the state of the world is pretty annoying, especially given their only solutions are Marley-ish bromides about peace and love. Reefer madness perhaps sets in when they start quoting Lewis Carroll and, on Crooked Tree, act out a ghastly courtroom drama with Sting in the role of a drug dealer and human trafficker being sent down by Shaggy’s stern judge. But these two have enough innate songwriting ability to come up with a couple of gems nonetheless. Gotta Get Back My Baby is generic but strongly written gospel-pop with Sting’s most heartfelt vocal line, while Don’t Make Me Wait sees the odd couple truly gel, with a yearning chorus from Sting paired with a pleasant tropical skank, and Shaggy promising his lover – in an amusingly sincere, laidback rap – that their relationship means “more to me than just hitting it”.

Contributor

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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