The first thing I will say is that this is the first Sting album I have ever brought (or owned, copied, let in the house...). So I don't come to it with any baggage of claiming to be a fan. I think some previous reviews here suffer from assuming that this is a straight pop album. Its not. The Deutche Gramophon label should be your guide.
I was intrigued enough to buy it as an intrest in folk and classical music puts this right up my street. I have also had a strong intrest in winter / Christmas too. By which I don't mean Wizzard / Slade. Anyway.
There is much to intrigue here. At 50 minutes running time, the album covers a lot of ground, and repeat listens will reveal lots of subtle parts you may miss first time round. There is old English folk songs, poems sung and set to music. Sting covers five centuries of music, but blends it all together beautifully. If you want a winter album to soundtrack the party season, forget it. If you don't want to try something new, learn about something outside the usual pop/rock mainstream, or widen your horizons, move on. But if you do appreciate musicians playing really well as individuals and together, an education and entertainment, this is for you. If you want something to soundtrack dark nights and reflection on the passing year as you sit by the fire with your favorite tipple as the lights flicker across the walls, take a chance and invest in this. I suspect as winter rolls around year on year, this will make repeat appearences on the stereo. It certainly has me researching further some of the origianal inspirations for the tracks. Which is what great music should do. Lead you on to even more...It's not an easy listen at times. Not all the tracks have a hummable melody or toe-tapping rhythm. Most are slow and take time to unfurl. You will need to pay attention, but its a grower. Its rewarding. Good things come to those who wait.