Mark Knopfler – One Deep River

Guitarist returns to his roots...

There’s an old saying that you can’t go home again – well, Mark Knopfler wants to put that to the test. New solo album ‘One Deep River’ carries the Tyne Bridge on its cover, a marker of his roots with the sun setting behind it. The material within builds on this theme, 12 songs that display his guitar chops, and his honesty, taking sounds refined over those blockbuster Dire Straits albums and giving them a humble, more down-home twist.

There’s much here for fans to pore over. Opener ‘Two Pairs Of Hands’ is taut, lean, with the choppy guitar lines boasting his trademark tone. Songs like ‘Ahead Of The Game’ have a countrified strut, a choppy rockabilly feel to the rhythm that pushes Knopfler into another space.

That said, much of the record has a wistful, introspective feel. ‘Janine’ is a homage to the Bakersfield sound via the North East, a lovelorn hymn with an assured vocal. ‘Black Tie Jobs’ is a sombre rumination, while ‘Before My Train Comes’ is steeped in Americana, but given a distinctly British twist.

While the playing is never less than exceptional – displaying Mark Knopfler’s assured rhythmic sensibility, and his lyrical lead styles – the arrangements on ‘One Deep River’ can sometimes falter. The repeated synth washes feel a little dated, and rob the material of energy, while the slightly mawkish choir on ‘Tunnel 13’ feel a little out of place.

That said, there’s much on her for dedicated fans to pore over. Closing with the majestic, stately title song, ‘One Deep River’ feels like a highly personal statement, a real labour of love. Rooted in classic American songwriting, it feels humble, and often moving – when Mark Knopfler permits himself to cut loose, there’s a lot here to be swept away by.

6/10

Words: Robin Murray

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