Mark Knopfler, Get Lucky (Reprise, 2009)

After going through a long stretch of time where his album releases were few and far between, Mark Knopfler has had a very productive decade. Including his duet with Emmylou Harris called All the Roadrunning, Get Lucky is his sixth album over the last ten years. While he has shied away from his guitar hero past, Knopfler remains one of the best musical storytellers around.

As usual, Knopfler sings about life in working class England and Scotland, with references to his own childhood. The title song, for example, is about a transient worker that Knopfler met when he was fifteen; the man sang in bands in the winter then headed south to France to pick fruit or find truffles when the weather got warm, always looking forward to the next stroke of good fortune. "Border Reiver" tells of a Scottish truck driver making deliveries in to England in the late sixties. "Cleaning My Gun" is about an ex-soldier turned bartender who plans to be ready the next time mob goons come into the pub and try to smash the place. "Piper to the End" is dedicated to an uncle that Knopfler never met, who carried his pipes with him into his final battle in France in 1940. Knopfler's stories can be poignant or they can be humorous, but either way the songs succeed because even the fictional characters are palpably real.

Musically, Get Lucky continues the blend of laid back rock, folk, Celtic, and country that has characterized all of Knopfler's recent work. His core backing band, consisting of Richard Bennett (rhythm guitar), Danny Cummings (drums), Guy Fletcher (keyboards), Matt Rollings (piano and keyboards), and Glenn Worf (bass), has remained constant since his first solo CD Golden Heart in 1996 -- a remarkable feat, given the instability of the Dire Straits lineups. The band is augmented this time around by renowned Scottish folk musician John McCusker, who plays fiddle, cittern, and whistle. I've complained in the past that Knopfler has gotten a bit too mellow for his own good, but after adjusting my expectations I can still say his music is worth a few listens.

Overall grade: B+

reviewed by Scott

Mark Knopfler plugs his new record on the BBC.

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