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Posted October 1, 2010
Knopfler's best work in years
Mark Knopfler's new album "The Ragpicker's Dream" has not been off my CD player since I got it last week -- it's that good. You may think of the former Dire Straits frontman as a rock star and hot-shot electric guitarist, but he's much more than that. Here he delves deep into his Geordie roots, as well as classic American styles, and rolls it all together with keenly observed song lyrics and his impeccably tasteful (mostly acoustic) guitar playing. Knopfler has always been a wonderful storyteller (remember "Romeo and Juliet", "Sultans of Swing" and "Telegraph Road"?), and he's pared down his epic style to what you might call short stories or vignettes, which are told with incredible efficiency and emotional impact. He takes us into the minds of Newcastle expatriates working in Germany on "Why Aye Man" and "Fare Thee Well Northumberland" (the latter sung to a variant of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger"); of circus freaks (the John Prine-ish "Devil Baby", complete with a dig at Jerry Springer), a cuckolded redneck ("Hill Farmer's Blues"), a Pennies-from-Heaven-type traveling salesman ("Quality Shoe"), a rail-riding hobo ("Marbletown" and "Old Pigweed") and even the cartoon Roadrunner ("Coyote" -- sample lyric: "It must be hard having dog dreams/ That never come true/ And don't you just wish you could/ Make half the speed I do"). Knopfler even throws in a Jacques Brel-type chanson in "A Place Where We Used To Live" and a Dickensian Christmas story in the title song "Ragpicker's Dream". The scope of his musicality is immense, and all delivered with his trademark laid-back drawl and gorgeous fingerpicking, backed with a light touch by a small ensemble including piano, pedal steel, and harmonica. If you were (as I was) a bit disappointed in his previous effort "Sailing to Philadelphia", you owe it to yourself to check out this album. I could not recommend it any more highly. It's a great folk album!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 22, 2009
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