Fresh from his reunion with the Police and his album covering the hits of Elizabethan composer John Dowland, Sting now offers "If on a Winter's Night." This is not some Christmas album with yet another cover of "Sleigh Ride" or "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." While there are some Christmas songs, these are not the usual Yuletide fare as Sting offers up an odd look at the relationship of Joseph and Mary in the "Cherry Tree Carol." Long time Sting listeners will recognize new versions of "Gabriel's Message" and "The Hounds of Winter." There are a number of traditional English songs here and Sting is accompanied by a company of excellent musicians. There are other influences as well. The charming "You Only Cross My Mind in Winter" is based on a piece by Bach while "Cold Song" is based on a poem by John Dryden. Needless to say, this is not an album for everyone. Some of the songs are as dark as a winter's night and Sting sounds mournful and melancholy (even by his standards). It's a wonderful concept and very few artists could pull it off. Critics of Sting will call it pretentious and there may be some truth to that. The bottom line remains that Sting is one of the most versatile rock/pop artists of the last few decades having taken on rock, world, jazz, classical, Spanish and Portuguese songs, and, now, traditional English folk songs. This is a fine album for a night by the fire with a glass of brandy or a mug of hot mulled cider but, again, it is not for everyone. Fans of Sting's Dowland album will probably like it but if you prefer his stints with the Police or even his more popular solo stuff, you may find "If on a Winter's Night" a bit too cold for your liking.