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HO HO WHO: This is not a Christmas album! It is an album about winter. That is what Sting says in the album’s unbearably smug and prolix notes, and he has a nice house in Tuscany where Euro folkies gather while his dog Compass watches the proceedings. You do not get a life like this because you are full of shit, though Sting’s recent propensity to prance about grasping a lute has made it hard for the Sleigher to find anyone who will even argue this point with him.

THE ITUNES GIFT CERTIFICATE: Sting sings at the bottom of his register for much of the album, which is a surprise as well as a challenge for anyone who gave up sometime around “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86”: Can you forgive him for “Fields of Gold” long enough to appreciate the vintage 4AD chill of “Cold Song” or the mournfulness of “Gabriel’s Message”? (FUN FACT: Mrs. Sleigher was kicked out of the choir at St. Margaret’s School in Edinburgh, Scotland, for, among other offenses, singing “Most highly flavored lady” to this tune. The opportunity to tell this story is possibly the only reason she is putting up with the Sleigher’s quixotic championing of this album.) Or at least give the man credit for making a Christmas album (sorry, Sting) that doesn’t rely on the same damn songs as everyone else’s?

THE UGLY SWEATER: Think of Sting as a man forever torn between the songs on Synchronicity and the feathered jacket he wore while promoting it. The soprano-sax solo on “The Burning Babe” and the ragamuffin-folk of “Soul Cake” are feathered jacket all the way.

CHEER FACTOR: There is no cheer in the deep deep heart of British winter. But the Sleigher, who may never have sex again because he likes this record, finds it cheery in its own weird way.

LISTEN: “Cold Song”
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WATCH: Sting on Italian TV! The Sleigher sees his beard and takes it all back!