The album is inspired by Sting’s forthcoming Broadway play of the same name and explores the central themes of homecoming and self-discovery. For the musical’s narrative, Sting drew upon his childhood experiences of living near the Swan Hunter Shipyard in Wallsend, Newcastle, and watching the demise of Britain’s shipbuilding industry in the 1980s.
The Last Ship marks his first new album of original material in 10 years.
“Before I began writing for this project, I hadn’t written anything in about eight years,” Sting wrote in a blog on Huffington Post. “I’d lost the urge to create — the urge that had driven me most of my life. But once I decided to turn these memories of my childhood into a narrative, and began to think of writing for other people — for other characters, from other viewpoints apart from my own — the songs came very quickly. I wasn’t in the way anymore. I really felt, for the first time in a long time, that I was free to tell a story that was important to me. The floodgates seemed to open, and every time I sat down, the songs would pour out.”
His personal reminiscences illuminate universal truths — the complexity of relationships, the passage of time and the importance of family and community – to form an affecting, complex parable for our modern times.
Guest artists on The Last Ship with roots in the North East of England include Jimmy Nail, Brian Johnson, The Unthanks, The Wilson Family and Kathryn Tickell. The album is produced by Rob Mathes (Sting, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Lou Reed, Carly Simon) and engineered and mixed by Donal Hodgson.
The play, in which Sting has been creatively immersed for nearly three years, debuts on Broadway in 2014 and is a collaboration with Tony Award winners Joe Mantello (director; Wicked, Other Desert Cities), John Logan (writer; Red, Skyfall) and Brian Yorkey (writer; Next to Normal).
The Last Ship will be available as both a digital and physical release in two configurations — a 12-song version and a 2-disc deluxe version featuring 5 additional tracks. (The 12-song version will also be available on vinyl.) A super deluxe edition, containing 2-discs comprised of 20 tracks within special packaging, will also be sold as a physical product exclusively at Amazon.com. AmazonMP3 will be the exclusive retailer for the 20-track, super deluxe digital edition.
All physical CD formats, including the vinyl edition, are now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.