Mark Knopfler: Tracker

Eighties guitar hero looks back with a quietly great solo album

Mark Knopfler Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty

With bands like the War on Drugs refracting Dire Straits' honeyed 1980s guitar sound, it's surprising that Mark Knopfler hasn't rebooted his old band lately. Instead, he's been unpacking his influences on modest, multifaceted rock LPs like this one. Opening on a vamp recalling Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," then veering into Celtic folk, "Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes" sets the tone for this burnished set about days past. "Basil" nods to Knopfler's youth in Northumbria; "Skydiver" echoes Seventies Grateful Dead. Knopfler's quicksilver guitar is understated, and he delivers stories of stoic ache like an old watchmaker on a pub stool — quietly riveting.