11 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

As a master instrumentalist with convincing everyman vocal skills, Mark Knopfler has had no trouble turning from rock music’s big stage to folk music’s modest ways and means. His solo career has enabled him to sit back and write story-songs that break on a sad, downtrodden note and spring to life on spirited ensemble playing. Deep down, Knopfler has always been a traditionalist and admirer of subtle touches. His own playing can effortlessly rustle up a manic flee of notes, but it’s the forlorn pennywhistle and fiddle of “Border Reiver,” the mournful organ of “Hard Shoulder” and the naturalistic acoustic guitars picking away in the background throughout that best serve Knopfler’s demeanor. “Cleaning My Gun” and “You Can’t Beat the House” add an extra shuffle, but the days of empowering electricity seem to have passed him by. The blues folds into Knopfler’s Celtic heritage and his yearning to bring the past into the present without defiling its honest spirit and tone. Sometimes he’s literal (“Before Gas and TV”) and other times it’s all in his hands (“So Far From the Clyde”).

EDITORS’ NOTES

As a master instrumentalist with convincing everyman vocal skills, Mark Knopfler has had no trouble turning from rock music’s big stage to folk music’s modest ways and means. His solo career has enabled him to sit back and write story-songs that break on a sad, downtrodden note and spring to life on spirited ensemble playing. Deep down, Knopfler has always been a traditionalist and admirer of subtle touches. His own playing can effortlessly rustle up a manic flee of notes, but it’s the forlorn pennywhistle and fiddle of “Border Reiver,” the mournful organ of “Hard Shoulder” and the naturalistic acoustic guitars picking away in the background throughout that best serve Knopfler’s demeanor. “Cleaning My Gun” and “You Can’t Beat the House” add an extra shuffle, but the days of empowering electricity seem to have passed him by. The blues folds into Knopfler’s Celtic heritage and his yearning to bring the past into the present without defiling its honest spirit and tone. Sometimes he’s literal (“Before Gas and TV”) and other times it’s all in his hands (“So Far From the Clyde”).

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Ratings and Reviews

4.5 out of 5
175 Ratings

175 Ratings

Sundance62 ,

Tuneful, pleasant, not what I was hoping for...

Like many long-standing fans of Mark and his work, I appreciate the quality and craftsmanship always on display. That said, I wish there were at least 3-4 more upbeat, "rock" type songs on this album. 'Cleaning My Gun' comes the closest.

I'm glad Mark is still producing music when so many other contemporaries are not, but I wish he'd mix in songs with the pace and feel of songs like 'Boom, Like That', 'Darling Pretty', 'Silvertown Blues', and 'Speedway of Narzareth'.

Looks like we'll have to wait another couple of years to see if we get a few more gems like those.

Daveth1218 ,

Thanks to Mark, once again we all Get Lucky

He's done it again. Mark Knopfler defies convention and releases yet another masterpiece of songwriting, composition and guitar magic. This time, with a rough theme of blue collar life in the British Highlands, he sings of truck drivers, pub owners, racing fans and loyal Northumbrians.


I suppose my taste is maturing along with Mark's as we age together (albeit he has a two decade headstart on me), but I find myself at peace with the pace and flow of this album as much as anything he's done since Communique.


Happily, in a world of Jay-Z and The Jonas Brothers, this is music for the intelligent fan. His appreciation of history and culture is inspiring. (Now I know what an Albion Reiver is -- not to mention a Border Reiver from the Middle Ages -- not bad for an American. The first time I listen to a Knopfler album, I often do so with Google nearby.) He is a master of restraint, as evidenced in the way he leaves you wanting so much more on so many tunes, notably "Piper to the End." This melancholy Scottish pipe ballad is an excellent candidate to replace his longtime favorite "Going Home" to close out a live Knopfler show. It would leave fans filing out thinking about life.


Still, few events in music are more frustrating than when an engineer checks the clock and begins to fadeout a virtuoso Knopfler riff. I thought we were past the 3-minute pop song? Why won't they just let it ride? I find myself cranking the volume to get every last note.


Knopfler says he keeps "getting behind the plough" and crafting music because it's still in him. Let's hope he doesn't exhaust his supply anytime soon. Certainly the requisite world tours on behalf of a record company coffers take their toll on any performer. As much as I love seeing Mark live, I fear he'll finally call it quits to avoid the ordeal. If he'd rather be writing and recording some of the finest music in all of rockdom than traveling, I say let him be. We're all the richer for having him.

kps427 ,

Good stuff

I have been a fan of Mark's for as long as I can remember, and though on first listen my initial thought was "oh, more of the same - but good!" I cannot tell you how haunting the last few tracks are - they really bring the album home. Simply put, he is one of the finest troubadors of our time.

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