Last week, I ordered the new album by Mark Knopfler and Friday I found it when I came home. I couldn’t wait to listen to it and here’s the review:
The album starts off where Privateering stopped, or so it seems. Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes could easily have been featured on Privateering, which is not a bad thing at all, since Privateering was all but a bad album. The song sounds like a good song to sing along, especially the part which has the title in it. A great starter.
The album continues with the song Basil, which is more sober than the starter. It starts with a guitar and Mark Knopfler singing about a poet, Basil Bunting. As the song proceeds, it becomes a beautiful ballad, with additional vocals done by Ruth Moody, who really ads to the song and the story.
River Towns is a song that could have been made by the Dire Straits. Next to the great guitar playing and the complete band, a saxophone is played. First just in the background, almost quiet, but steadily growing and in the end even with a solo. Definitely a highlight on the album.
Skydiver is the first song on the album which is shorter than five minutes. It starts off with a great intro (coming close to a wall of sound), but then the song turns around and Mark starts to sing with a ‘simple’ musical arrangement. In this song, we can really hear Mark having fun, together with Ruth Moody. The song almost reminds of those songs sung around the campfire, including clapping at the end of the song. And again: great guitar playing!
After the happy song, Mighty Man brings in a more mysterious tone. It almost reminds of Private Investigations, but it soon turns out not to be that. The song is, I suspect, a story about the days Mark Knopfler started as an artist. A good song where I can’t yet lay my finger on.
The clapping is back in Broken Bones, which is a bit like an old folk song. It sounds different from what we heard before, but at the same time it also feels like you have known it for years.
A bit of a love song comes in on Long Tall Girl. Ruth Moody comes in to do some additional vocals, which works: it feels like a duet between the girl, who is at home, and Mark, who is travelling around the world. They belong together, but because of the touring they can’t. Beautiful resting point.
A suggestive photograph is placed underneath the songtext of Lights Of Taormina. We can see Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler in his Dire Straits time. The question is: is it a Dire Straits song? Maybe yes, maybe no. Difficult to say. The text starts as a song about old love, but then it seems to be about a succesfull artist (probably Mark Knopfler himself). The text brings in the antiquity, and is a great song to dream away with.
In the song Silver Eagle we travel with Mark on tour, thinking about the one he loves but who is sleeping half a mile away. Again, the text is difficult to decipher, but the music is great to listen to.
The shortest song on the normal album is Beryl. This is the Dire Straits sound back again. Mark plays the guitar like never before, and it sounds great. Really a shame that it doesn’t last longer…
The last song of the album is Wherever I Go. Ruth Moody is back for one last time, not to sing backing vocals, but to take some lines herself. The text is (for a change) not very difficult: even if Mark is on tour, the one he loves is there. The saxophone plays a melancholic solo, and the whole song is that beautiful, that it could make you cry.
If you have got some extra money, I would advise you: buy the Deluxe edition. It features four extra tracks, which you may not miss hearing. .38 Special has a sort of country/folk groove, is up tempo and done in less than three minutes. However, it is (after Beryl) my favourite track. My Heart Has Never Changed is a good song, probably not the best on the album, but it is quite nice. Terminal Of Tribute To has something mystical about it and bursts out in a song that is too good to miss (somewhere between Privateering and the Dire Straits). Heart Of Oak is the shortest song with less than two minutes to play. A nice song to hear, not really something special about it.
In conclusion: an album full of great tracks, with great variation in what you will hear. If you have some extra money, definitely buy the deluxe version! I’m looking forward to the tour, especially his concert in Amsterdam (yes, that’s the one I’m going to visit!)