According to Sting, the birth cycle of his seventh solo album, Brand New Day, developed in an organic - and atypical - manner. As the artist told Billboard, "It began on a lark, whereas all the previous records had been done very professionally, where we'd clock on at 9, the songs were already written, and the producer was on board."
Sting says that when he began work on the album at his house in Tuscany, Italy in the summer of 1998, "I pretended I wasn't working on a record. I pretended I was just gonna get some musicians together and have fun in the house and jam a little, and then pick the bones out of the jams in the mornings, and then adapt them a little bit. . . . So I just hammed around for a month or two, and picked bits out and started to loosely structure songs without any lyrics. I finished and sequenced an hour of music without any idea of what it was about lyrically."
The lyrics, he explains, arose in similarly unselfconscious fashion. "So I would take an hour of music away with me on my walks around the woods in Tuscany, and try and allow characters or stories to emerge, rather like the way I imagine sculptors work - they find a piece of rock and see a bit of a nose here, and a bit of an arm or leg there, and end up with a body. Some days nothing would emerge out of the mist, and other days whole characters would emerge. So the music was telling me the stories.
"I had no plan that the songs would be connected in any way, but I ended up with 12 songs that were really love stories in the very traditional sense - but with 'lover' always as a metaphor for something larger, some larger philosophical thought or religious view of the world. They're all connected in that sense, and I think it's quite a romantic record."
Brand New Day, which Sting co-produced with producer/programmer Kipper, features guest appearances by James Taylor, Branford Marsalis and Stevie Wonder, who contributed vocals and harmonica to the album's Motown-flavored title track.
As Sting explains, the song "reminded me of Stevie Wonder, and I said 'God, it would be great if Stevie would play on this.' So I made a phone call, full of trepidation because he's one of my idols, and he was like, 'Yeah, I'll come to New York and do it.' He turned up and played his ass off. . . . When he walks into a room, it's like a higher being. He's a powerful, spiritual entity. For him to play on my record - and James too, because he's one of the reasons I do what I do - is so much fun and a great honor as well."