Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Album review: MARK KNOPFLER - Privateering

Highlights: Haul Away, Privateering, Radio City Serenade, Dream Of The Drowned Submariner

It’s telling and rather sad that the first thing you want to say about the new Mark Knopfler album is that it doesn’t have one bad song on it (and for a double, 20-track LP, that is certainly quite impressive). However, it’s all about another question: just how great is the whole thing? Well, not too great, of course (Knopfler doesn’t do those). As expected, Privateering is yet another thoughtful, well-written, profoundly good Mark Knopfler album. As cozy and reliable as the chilly, drizzly November rain outside your window.

So I guess it all comes down to just how much edge Mark’s latest has. No surprises here either: the usual amount. Doesn’t quite compare to Kill To Get Crimson (still my favourite album of his), but with some serious editing Privateering could be a minor classic. Drenched in his laidback, effortless guitar playing, velvety voice and tasteful melancholy, the album has enough solid material to make it indispensable for anyone with a remote interest in the man. Gorgeous ballads are among his all-time best: songs like “Seattle” or “Radio City Serenade” are as weary and understated as they are poignant and heartbreaking.

Interestingly, the problem with Privateering is too much blues. And one could of course argue that Mark Knopfler’s songs have always had that bluesy (sometimes waltzy) flavour to them… So what’s the big deal this time? Well, this time at least one half of these songs are just straight-up, totally anonymous blues numbers that could have been composed by anyone. They are tasteful and expertly played, granted, but where’s the identity?

Still, there’s just too much good stuff here to be disappointed. So even if I do want to cut this thing in two – I still give Privateering its beautiful, well-deserved 7 without any doubts or second thoughts. Another worthy addition to Knopfler's worthy catalogue.


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