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Review: Mark Knopfler’s ‘Down The Road Wherever’ is a Sturdy Blues-Roots Blend

These songs are filled with images of memory and remembrance

Portraits of British songwriter and guitarist Mark Knopfler for the release of his album 'Down The Road Whatever'.

Derek Hudson

Three years after his last album, Tracker, Mark Knopfler returned with another dependable collection of Irish blues and laidback roots rock. The album’s material ranges from languid lullabys like “My Bacon Roll” and “Floating Away” to the upbeat blues funk of “Back on the Dancefloor” and “Nobody Does That.”

At this point in his career, Knopfler tends to be most affecting in the former role, as the sensitive English balladeer with a knack for writing about the haunting, pervasive effects of memory and remembrance. Indeed, as he pushes 70, Knopfler has become newly reflective, from the personalized history of the Celtic-lilted “One Song At A Time” to the wistfully nostalgic highlight “Good on You Son.” 

“Left the backie and the beer where he was born and bred,” Knopfler sings in a moment that inevitably conjures the rock & roll mythmaking of “Sultans of Swing.” “Now he’s cutting it out here with the quick and the dead.” On an album with 14 songs, there’s certainly some filler (see the sleepy “When You Leave”), but for the most part, Knopfler’s blues-roots blend, infused here with a fresh dose of jazz and funk) remains sturdy

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