Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Mark Knopfler 12: Down The Road Wherever

We know Mark Knopfler can chicken-pick and solo like nobody else, but he’s suffered from relying on a lot of the same over the decades. Down The Road Wherever is another assortment of new songs, and it’s striking for the variety of music styles, sometimes from track to track.
“Trapper Man” fades in kinda like “Telegraph Road”, which is encouraging, but the similarity ends there, as the song stretches the metaphor to cover the music biz, and even has a funk breakdown. “Back On The Dance Floor” is either about that stated subject or a career criminal hoping for a big score; either way the chorus is stolen from “The Letter” via the Box Tops. The same narrator could be the subject of “Nobody’s Child”, for that matter. “Just A Boy Away From Home” sports a solo initially stolen from the Stones’ version of “You Gotta Move”, but goes into a completely different place with the most subtle of Stax horns to become a highlight of the album. Also nice is “When You Leave”, which has a prominent muted trumpet and sad piano like a lost torch standard, but “Good On You Son” just sounds too modern with its beats, despite the reference to Cockney Rebel.
We wouldn’t have expected a dour song with a chorus asking where somebody left “My Bacon Roll”, but here it is. “Nobody Does That” is another experiment with modern beats mixed with ‘70s funk; “One Song At A Time” is similarly upbeat, but the lyrics nicely travel through time. “Floating Away” seems based on “Spooky”, with striking lyrics about painting a portrait of a fat man, and likely symbolic, but “Slow Learner” is another piano-based torch song, and more resonant. “Heavy Up” is stuck between reggae and salsa for an interesting blend, but “Matchstick Man” is a lovely memory of a traveling musician during the holidays.
Down The Road Wherever appeared in a dizzying array of formats, with bonus tracks depending on category and country, which suggests that even he didn’t know how to present the album. We’re still waiting for another Making Movies or Love Over Gold, which is why we still pay attention.

Mark Knopfler Down The Road Wherever (2018)—3

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