Like many, I'm sure, I skipped through the tracks on this cd when I first got it, hoping to find 4-5 that I immediately liked. Initially, I remember being disappointed. However, after a few weeks, I only have one thing to say: WOW.
As for the criticism, we have to first remember that unlike most musicians today, Sting is still, first and foremost...an artist. As such, his art (or music) is going to be an expression. It's obvious from listening to this cd that Sting's been going through some deep stuff internally, and it has naturally manifested itself into his music.
I have to say I agree with the review by "Hounds" found elsewhere on this site. There's definitely one Tribute song here, if not more. This shouldn't be a surprise - you can see a gradual transformation of Sting over his past couple releases where, if you know what to look for, you can sense his growing interest in the spiritual/God/whatever you want to call it.
Ironically, I think this album will probably go down as one of Sting's "worst", though, from the standpoint of the general population of music fans. Mostly because the lyrics in many of the songs are meaningless to most, but extremely powerful to some. In many ways, I wonder if this is more of a 'Gospel' cd cleverly disguised as popular music. In "Whenever I Say Your Name" (my absolute favorite), "The Book of My Life" and "Send Your Love", Sting may simply be crying out to his Creator...meanwhile, the world perhaps hears a song that makes no sense whatsoever. To me, that's the beauty of this cd.