Legend in the heaven
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Rs 395; rating: ***1/2
Mark Knopfler, the former Dire Straits frontman and the 20th century pop titan, had once said, "My idea of heaven is a place where Mississippi Delta meets the Tyne and folk meets the blues". At 62, the man lives up to his words. Privateering, his first double album in a 35-year recording career, comes with rollicking blues riff, Celtic folk, crisp acoustics, American blues, and of course, Knopfler's rich baritone. Twenty songs in an album sounds a bit like a trip down memory lane, with Knopfler's warm vocals and characteristic guitar lines creating a host of simple, mostly mid-tempo ballads.
Those who grew up listening to Dire Straits in the '70s and '80s have had a love-hate relationship with Knopfler. After all, he disbanded the band when it was at its pinnacle and went on to have a solo career. The title of his seventh solo album ("privateer" means a privately owned ship used by the government during wars to capture the enemy) seems to be a metaphor for musicians making their own way into the world.
The opening track, Redbud tree, is pleasant, but doesn't particularly stand out. From the second track onwards, the album is a joy to listen to. Haul away is a folk gem, with its excellent acoustics, even though it is reminiscent of Titanic's theme track. It's followed by Don't forget your hat with sparkling guitar riffs and piano interludes that infuse a jazz-like feel to the otherwise bluesy track. Next up is the title song, a folk-rock track whose stylistic ingenuity is similar to his popular Brothers in arms track. Go love's bass is profound, while Hot or What has a Bob Dylan-ish rasp, even if it is slightly mellow.
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