With the release of Get Lucky, Mark Knopfler has made as many solo studio albums as he made group studio albums with Dire Straits, which may be a signal that it's time to stop comparing his two careers and simply accept them as separate entities. Of course, since Knopfler was the lead singer, chief instrumentalist, and songwriter for Dire Straits, ...Read MoreWith the release of Get Lucky, Mark Knopfler has made as many solo studio albums as he made group studio albums with Dire Straits, which may be a signal that it's time to stop comparing his two careers and simply accept them as separate entities. Of course, since Knopfler was the lead singer, chief instrumentalist, and songwriter for Dire Straits, there are obvious similarities, even if he has taken a deliberately different path as a solo artist. Basically, he's a lot quieter. "Border Reiver," the first song here, begins with a pennywhistle and a piano, then strings join in. Soon enough, Knopfler's distinctive conversational baritone begins calmly intoning lyrics, and eventually there are examples of his melodic fingerpicked guitar style on both acoustic and electric. He even works up to a smoldering swamp rock shuffle, à la J.J. Cale, on "Cleaning My Gun." But that's as close as he comes to really rocking out. More typical is "Hard Shoulder," a ballad that employs a twangy guitar sound and comes across as a number that Glen Campbell could have had a hit with back in his late-'60s "Wichita Lineman" heyday. The tunes support Knopfler's story-songs and musical character studies, as he describes or embodies truck drivers ("Border Reiver"), itinerant workers ("Get Lucky"), guitar makers ("Monteleone"), and sailors ("So Far from the Clyde"), among others, painting a portrait of pastoral and blue-collar life in the British Isles some time in the past. This Glasgow-born guitarist comes by the Celtic influence honestly, of course, but he seems to be trying to create his own pseudo-traditional repertoire of what often sound like old folk songs. That's certainly one of the things he was trying to do in Dire Straits. "Remembrance Day" here is similar in tone to Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms," but then so is much of Knopfler's solo work; old fans still may lament that there isn't much that sounds like "Sultans of Swing" or "Money for Nothing." ~ William Ruhlmann, RoviRead Less
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