My husband visited Rasputin’s last week and arrived home with two finds: the newest Bruce Springsteen and the latest Mark Knopfler.
I will say up front that I am not a Springsteen fan. In the past I have found his vocal styling preposterous and annoying, and his lyrics self-indulgent to a most frustrating degree. That said, this latest work is a complete surprise to me. I actually liked it! On most of the tunes his voice is bereft of that tremelo that in the past made me wish to break something, and lacking that affectation I realized that he has a very nice voice. His lyrics on this latest album (‘Magic’) are also less melodramatic, more honest. It’s a good solid album, but my husband did comment that the engineering is a little hot; he managed to copy and rebalance it a little but the drums are still a little uninspiring.
The Knopfler album was also a surprise. I have admired Knopfler’s talent ever since my husband introduced me to his work, about 22 years ago. At that time of course, MK was part of Dire Straits. It was clear the man was fabulously talented. My favorite album for years has been Sailing to Philadelphia, a sort of American history album deploying numerous stylistic approaches without losing cohesion. Last year’s collaboration with Emmylou Harris was equally brilliant and obsessively played/replayed.
This newest album proves once again that Knopfler is dedicated to both the art and craft of music. At first I was troubled by the lack of an allegro tune, but on the second (of many dozen) listenings I realized the pace is an expression of the artistic integrity of this amazing work. And as usual, Knopfler diverse genious is displayed in the remarkable combination of enticing tunes and engaging lyrics.
One comment comparing the old Springsteen to Knopfler: Knopfler never falls into melodrama without making it the point of the piece. Even with the wistful ‘Prairie Wedding’ from Sailing … , Knopfler manages to convey emotion without leaving the listener feeling that they are being asked to manufacture a reaction.