Thursday, October 15, 2009
Album Review Mark Knopfler 'Get Lucky'
Artist: Mark Knopfler
Title: Get Lucky
As the founder of Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler found vast success and recognition with songs like, ‘Down to the Waterline’ and ‘Money for Nothing.’ Since reaching the pinnacle of economic success, much like Neil Young or even Bob Dylan, Knopfler has downshifted his career by going solo and putting out albums that lean heavily on roots and less on ‘rock n’ roll.’ While FM radio audiences may have felt slighted, music aficionados have been the beneficiary as Knopfler’s solo records have been consistently excellent.
Along with fellow Northumberland son, Sting, Mark Knopfler hails a part of his life from the Tyneside area of northeast England near Newcastle upon Tyne. Like his musical doppelganger, Knopfler goes back to the sound of his northern heritage using bagpipes, flute & whistle and accordion to create a soundscape enhanced by Celtic textures but anchored in post-1980’s folk music. Knopfler’s songs are panoramic with haunting tones that are fresh and familiar; telling stories of characters from his youth including meeting noted British race car driver Bobby Brown or memories of the United Kingdom’s ‘Remembrance Day’ along with “Angry Alfie, Bill and Ken.” It is interesting that both Knopfler and Sting draw upon the memories of the now long gone shipbuilding industry that once employed the working ‘Geordies’ and ‘Macums’ of the Tyneside area. As heard on Sting’s, ‘Soul Cages’ album and on Knopfler’s song, ‘So Far from Clyde’ (a reference to a water inlet in Scotland).
In recent year’s music’s “in crowd” crowed about Knopfler’s two duet albums with American songstress Emmylou Harris. While tasty the real gems of Knopfler’s body of work lie within his solo efforts rather than the albums by Dire Straits or Harris. For radio programmers, ‘You Can’t Beat the House’ is an easy entry into this album while ‘Piper to the End’ is a rich Celtic sound. The album’s title track is another accessible track to allow listeners a doorway into Knopfler’s rich musical expression. This is a true artist and therefore plan on it taking a few listens before the album begins to unfold for you. Knopfler is a master ballad writer and, as his work with Dire Straits has shown, a pretty good up-tempo songwriter too. Due to the niche nature of his work and the seemingly unique roots he brings together for the foundation of his songwriting, Knopfler is not for every listener but for those willing to invest the ear-time – his work will become among your favorite, ‘return to albums.’