September 24, 2009

Mark Knopfler - Get Lucky

"I want my...... I want my...... I want my MTVeeeeeeeeeeee!"

It was many years ago, back in that long ago, bygone era when MTV actually played music videos. I remember this video coming on with that blocky computer animation (I am fairly certain this was one of, if not the, first video to use so much computer animation), and that infectious guitar line. "Money for Nothing" was my introduction to Mark Knopfler's distinctive sound as the leader of Dire Straits. I would like to say that it also made me a lifelong fan of the band, but the best I can muster is a sideways glance, an enjoyment of what I heard but no real desire to dive headlong into fandom.

I suspect part of that was the fact that my father is a fan of the band and at the time I was on the young side and my taste in music was woefully underformed. I would later discover more of their music through a greatest hits collection, but that is about as far as I have gotten. On the plus side, my tastes have gown, expanded, and been refined during the intervening years.

What does any of this have to do with Get Lucky? Well, it leads me to this point of my music listening life. There was a time, probably closer than I would care to admit, when I would have written this off out of hand. Actually, that isn't quite true. It is probably more that I would not have even heard of it to ignore it!

I am grateful that my tastes have changed the way they have. I may still be a metal and heavy music guy at heart, but I like to think I have the ability to recognize good music in other genres (although it is a bit tougher without a frame of reference in many cases). I have made an effort to try other genres and styles, and while I admit there is a long way to go, the journey I have discovered some great music along the way,

Anyway, Mark Knopfler's latest solo release is a beautiful, sedate album that sits well with repeated listenings. This is nothing like his Dire Straits work, and I am glad for it. There is nothing worse than an artist going solo and merely recreating what he did in the band. I have heard one other solo album from Knopfler, 2004's Shangri-La. It has been awhile since I have given it a listen, but I remember liking it as well, noting the differences from Dire Straits.

Get Lucky sounds like a deeply personal album. There is something about these songs that cut through any sense of pretense and has its focus in the right place. Each song has a different feel, each song adds its own personal feel to the work as a whole. Mark Knopfler displays some wonderful songwriting skills and has a great guitar sound.

The album feels full and robust while simultaneously feeling sparse and stripped down. It is hard to describe. There are layers of electric and acoustic guitars, some wind instruments, a steady pulse of drums, all backing Knopfler's relaxed and distinctive voice.

As I listen to this, I want to put it in a similar category as Warren Zevon's The Wind or Bob Dylan's Modern Times. I do not think this is as good as either of those albums, but there is a distinct similarity to the folk-rock stylings, laid back feel, and distinctive voices between them. Plus, it works as a better comparison than trying to shoehorn this into the Dire Straits discography.

Songs to focus on: "Hard Shoulder," "Cleaning My Gun," "Get Lucky," and "Remembrance Day."

Bottomline. If you want some nicely written and executed laid back tunes on the folk-rock tip, this is going to be one you want. There is some strong guitar work and you cannot find anyone who sounds quite like Mark Knopfler.



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