Classic Rock

Mark Knopfler

Down The Road Wherever


The superpower of the guitar god is the ability to instantly de-trad a song with a flick of the plectrum. No matter how far Mark Knopfler wanders down Chris Rea’s road to northern country-blues traditiona­lism – nine solo albums now, and little sign of turning back – his silken licks still lift his songs into the realm of the timeless. Down The Road Wherever is full of such moments; Gallic reminiscen­ces laced with rich riffs, or wild-west country noirs like Nobody’s Child breaking into solos that make them feel like sepia turn-of-thecentury photograph­s being pored over by a sultry angel.

Aware that he’s spinning ageless sounds, Knopfler blurs the album between antique historical portrait – take Trapper Man’s glistening sepia mountainfo­lk story of living off the cruel land, or Drovers’ Road, a brooding throwback to a lost rural idyll – and gritty, solemn northern biography like My Bacon Roll, about an office worker quitting the middle-management rat race to spend his days lost in Wetherspoo­n meal deals. One Songs At A Time does both, merging the Deptford roots of Dire Straits with imagery of 19th-century dock workers.

But the album is most revealing when Knopfler bares autobiogra­phical teeth; when Heavy Up turns into a louche, Latino rebuff to his critics, or when the album’s reflective, whisky-bar tone lifts with subtle snatches of electronic­a on Good On You Son, a future blues about a Brit kid taking on LA’s industry vultures. Stay on these roads.

mark beaumont

 ??  ?? Folklore and nostalgia on MK’s smoky, reflective ninth.
Folklore and nostalgia on MK’s smoky, reflective ninth.

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