Singing stories

music review

Singing stories

Mark Knopfler, formerly of Dire Straits, has come out with Tracker, a solo album of 11 new songs about people, places and ordinary lives. However, in terms of music, don’t expect the virtuosity of Dire Straits tracks like “Sultans of Swing” or “Walk of life.” The music has folk, blues and country influences and Knopfler sounds Dylanesque. There is an understated subtlety. The troubadour, unhurried style songs almost narrate stories.

The opening song, “Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes”, is about growing up happy with little money (“Laughs and jokes/ And drinks and smokes/ And no lights on the stairs/ We were young, so young/ And always broke/ Not that we ever cared”). The music is stretched out to make the track a longish six minutes.

“River Towns” is a languorous and lazy folk style music, while “Skydiver” is a song about a day in the life of a devil-may-care gambler. “Broken Bones” is a boxing song with a hypnotic disco groove (“You take it like a man, on the chin/ And you don’t make a fuss when the towel comes in....Broken bones, you pick ‘em up and carry ‘em/ Broken bones, you carry ‘em home”).

“Long Cool Girl” is a love song with acoustic guitar parts. The lyrics are quite simple, “All I do is think of you / As I go around the world / All I do is think of you / Long, cool girl.” “Beryl” is the story of British novelist Beryl Bainbridge who received an award posthumously that some thought came too late. The song is uptempo and reminiscent of “Sultans of Swing.” The last song, “Wherever I Go”, is a duet with Ruth Moody, a love song of being apart from the one you love. The saxophone adds a touch of jazz.

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