Sting says he's fully aware that an album of 16th century lute songs is not exactly a commercial slam-dunk. But he's holding out hope that his "Songs From the Labyrinth," due Oct. 10 via Deutsche Gram

Sting says he's fully aware that an album of 16th century lute songs is not exactly a commercial slam-dunk. But he's holding out hope that his "Songs From the Labyrinth," due Oct. 10 via Deutsche Grammophon, will find an audience.

"I keep saying it -- you just never know," says Sting, who recorded the album with lute player Edin Karamazov from Sarajevo. "I think this is a longer shot than ['O Brother, Where Art Thou?'] but ... why not? The response so far has been very encouraging. People have said, 'Wow, this is totally different. How refreshing.' I don't know -- that may translate into mass appeal or it may not.

"We really did this for love, and whatever happens next is in the hands of the Gods, really," he adds.

Sting and Karamazov certainly plan to do their part to lure people into the "Labyrinth." They'll be the musical guests on the Oct. 16 episode of the new NBC show "Studio 60" and have concerts planned for St. Luke's Church in London on Oct. 4 and the Allen Room on Oct. 9 in New York. They're also planning a Berlin show and hold out the possibility for more performances if album sales are good.

"I think we have to stay intimate with it, live," says Sting, who has adapted the Police's "Message in a Bottle" and his own "Fields of Gold" for lute. "It's not gonna work in a giant stadium. It needs to be a small, controlled space."

"Songs From the Labyrinth" is comprised of songs by composer John Dowland, along with one track written by Robert Johnson (the Englishman, not the American blues legend). The track "Come Again" will be a single of sorts, although Sting notes with a laugh, "It's probably radio-proof."

As for his next project, Sting is circumspect -- though he expects to return to more traditional creative confines. "I'm sort of feeling anxious about it, so that's always the first stage," he notes. "I'd like to make another pop record, but I don't know what it is. Maybe this album will give me a clue."