“Tracker” is Mark Knopfler’s 8th solo album, a collection of soulful songs that leave plenty of space for his dry, slightly monotone vocals, and, more importantly, his warm guitar tone. Knopfler produced the album with his old Notting Hillbilies/Dire Straits partner Guy Fletcher (who also plays keyboards on the album), and it mixes country, bluegrass and folk influences with his trademark lead guitar. The songs are relaxed and spacious, allowing the band plenty of space to breathe.
Knopfler starts things off with “Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes” in a 3/4 time signature that’s not often heard in rock, wrapped up in a cool Irish vibe. “38 Special”, an upbeat country ditty played on banjo, finds him channeling American-era Johnny Cash, and it works quite well; his voice has aged (not that he ever was a technical singer), taking on an elderly deepness, and it suits the songs perfectly. “Beryl” (inspired by author Beryl Bainbridge) is probably the track that sounds the most like vintage Dire Straits on this record, but that’s not to say that Knopfler has strayed far from his comfort zone.
Knopfler tracks the origin of “Lights of Taormina” and “Silver Eagle” to his tours with Bob Dylan, and it’s easy to hear the influence the poet/songwriter has had on his writing. But despite the different influences that colour this album, it’s Knopfler’s guitar that ties everything together. None of the songs really grabbed me, but the mood of the music is fantastic. “Tracker” sounds exactly as you’d expect a Mark Knopfler album to sound, and that’s great. Light up the fireplace, pour yourself a glass of Scotch, dim the lights and press Play.
- Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes
- River Towns
- Mighty Man
- Broken Bones
- Long Cool Girl
- Lights of Taormina
- Silver Eagle
- Wherever I Go (featuring Ruth Moody of The Wailin’ Jennys)
- 38 Special
- My Heart Has Never Changed
- Terminal of Tribute To
- Heart of Oak