It’s been 3 years since Mark Knopfler’s eighth solo studio release, “Tracker.”
Today he’s back with “Down the Road Wherever,” and more than a dozen satisfying Celtic folk-rock compositions sure to gladden the hearts of his fans.
The fingerstyle guitarist virtuoso and former lead singer for rock band Dire Straits has a lengthy list of accomplishments but has always been careful to pace himself. For this reason, his music seldom disappoints. On his newest, Knopfler enhances some tracks with the addition of horns and the pleasing sounds of female vocalists.
Solid, colorful storytelling via first track “Trapper Man” starts things off in fine form. And “Just a Boy Away from Home” opens as crisp, funky blues highlighted by horns – then transitions into a wonderfully mournful guitar solo as Knopfler plays “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (Rodgers and Hammerstein).
Enticing “Back on the Dance Floor” is filled with smooth, mellow passages that are classic Knopfler, reminding us why we loved earlier albums “Shangri-La” and “Get Lucky.”
“Dance Floor” also includes vocal accompaniment and harmonies by Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May…it’s on our playlist:
Back on the Dance Floor
Rock star, soloist, film score writer
Aside from his role as co-founder and lead guitarist for band Dire Straits – who released six albums between 1978 and 1991 – Knopfler has a total of 10 solo studio albums to his credit.
He’s won more than a dozen awards for music, including four Grammys, a Juno and a Brit award. He’s also written 10 movie soundtracks over the years, including “Wag the Dog,” “The Princess Bride” and the exceptional “Local Hero.”
Dire Straits – whom Knopfler co-founded with brother David – was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just last year. (Their 1985 “Brothers in Arms” is the fifth-best-selling album in UK chart history).
About songwriting – and “Brothers in Arms,” in particular, Knopfler once said: “You can’t just write off the top of your head…you have to dig deep to get those things.”
Another prize track from his newest release? His upbeat “Good On You Son,” enticing with terrific lyrics and a shout-out to Southern California living (“By his cutting block the time has come for the fruit there by the juicer / He grinds fresh coffee for himself he’s meeting our producer / L.A. Times lies on the stone, warming there like bread / Hey what’s not to like out here with the quick and the dead“). It flaunts some ace sax solos.
Fans are also likely to appreciate the reflective “One Song at a Time,” pensive love song “When You Leave,” and the funky, jazzy, flirtatious “Nobody Does That.”
All-in-all, “Down the Road Wherever” delivers a well-rounded journey of quality roots rock.
To close out, here’s a live performance of Knopfler performing “Brothers in Arms” (Berlin, 2007):
Knopfler’s tour to promote the new album starts in April.