Ragpicker's Dream

Ragpicker's Dream

4.2 4
by Mark Knopfler
     
 

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Throughout his quarter century in the spotlight -- both as a solo artist and with Dire Straits -- Mark Knopfler has consistently tried to, as he puts it, "find the musical connection between the Delta and the Tyne." That blend of exploratory blues playing and British traditionalism imbues The Ragpicker's Dream, his third properSee more details below

Overview

Throughout his quarter century in the spotlight -- both as a solo artist and with Dire Straits -- Mark Knopfler has consistently tried to, as he puts it, "find the musical connection between the Delta and the Tyne." That blend of exploratory blues playing and British traditionalism imbues The Ragpicker's Dream, his third proper solo album, with a heady, but never overly heavy, atmosphere. Knopfler's dry humor is in full effect on songs such as "Devil Baby," which casts a jaundiced eye on the world according to Jerry Springer, and "Coyote," a little ditty that the guitarist says was inspired by watching Road Runner cartoons with his kids. While Knopfler doesn't spend much time weaving the electric guitar mesh that's snagged many a fan over the years, he does coax considerable color from his acoustic on bucolic tunes such as "Fare Thee Well Northumberland," on which he gets able support from multi-instrumentalist Richard Bennett's bouzouki. Knopfler's other bandmates make their presence known as well: Glenn Duncan daubs "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville" with high-lonesome fiddle, and Paul Franklin contributes doleful pedal steel to "Hill Farmer Blues," the song that's the most overtly redolent of the hill country that Knopfler has long used for inspiration. But in the end, The Ragpicker's Dream is clearly Mark Knopfler's reverie -- realized in vivid tones that should warm the heart of anyone looking for a bit of aural uplift.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
With his second post-millennium album in just two years, Mark Knopfler has already equaled his meager (non-soundtrack) output for the '90s. And while he isn't reinventing himself, The Ragpicker's Dream is a pleasant, classy, often inspired effort whose unassuming charms are best appreciated after repeated listenings. The memorable riffage that fueled Dire Straits' most radio-friendly material has been discarded for a more pastoral approach, making this a perfect album for a rainy Sunday morning. Like his Notting Hillbillies side project, it isn't entirely unplugged, yet there is an emphasis on acoustic accompaniment to its predominantly ballad slant. Instead of leaving space for traditional soloing, Knopfler weaves his snake-like guitar between the words. This infuses a tense, edgy quality in even the most bucolic tracks, resulting in the crackling but still low-boil atmospherics of "Hill Farmer's Blues" and "Fare Thee Well Northumberland." "Marbletown" is an unaccompanied folk/blues that sounds as if Knopfler was born and raised in the Mississippi backwoods. He taps into the patented insistent lazy, shuffling groove on the spooky "You Don't Know You're Born." It's the most Straits-like track here featuring an extended, winding, yet subtle solo. "Coyote," a mid-tempo sizzler -- lyrically based on the Road Runner cartoons -- is propelled by a walking bass figure and Knopfler's homey, lived-in, talk-sung vocals. Again, the guitar pyrotechnics are interspersed throughout the verses with overdubbed sounds employed to provide ambiance and mood. The authentic honky tonk swing of "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville" could have come off a Wayne Hancock album, and the "King of the Road" melody from "Quality Shoe" is a tribute to Roger Miller. As an homage to the American roots music he's always admired and a desire to retreat further from the stadium rock of his Straits days, The Ragpicker's Dream is a restrained success, at least on its own terms. It may not please some of Knopfler's old "Money for Nothing" fans, but at this stage, he's obviously not trying to.
Rolling Stone - Ernesto Lechner
[Knopfler's] Zen attitude, ironically, is what makes this unassuming batch of gentle tunes so oddly compelling.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/01/2002
Label:
Warner Bros / Wea
UPC:
0093624831822
catalogNumber:
48318
Rank:
13358

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mark Knopfler   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Jimmy Nail   Background Vocals
Glen Duncan   Violin
Richard Bennett   Guitar
Jim Cox   Piano,Hammond Organ
Chad Cromwell   Drums
Guy Fletcher   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Paul Franklin   Pedal Steel Guitar
Glenn Worf   Bass
Tim Healy   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Mark Knopfler   Producer
Stephen Walker   Art Direction
Chuck Ainlay   Producer,Engineer
Elliot Erwitt   Cover Photo
Neil Kellerhouse   Art Direction
Jake Jackson   Engineer
John Saylor   Engineer
Jon Bailey   Engineer

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