Privateering

Studio Album by released in 2012

Privateering review

Only number seven

Only number sever? That is right, we are talking about just a seventh album of 63-year old Mark Knopfler, who, it might seem, must have recorded a lot more albums since the collapse of Dire Straits. However, after the biggest band of his lifetime demised, this guitar wizard committed himself to a lot of various projects, apart from a solo career, so his own albums are not sufficient to judge Mark’s music life. Besides, the musician apparently never aimed to make as many records as possible. Solo activity became an escape for Mark, an occupation to his own satisfaction, a hobby. At the same time, Knopfler never softens demands to himself, as he still holds the bar very high and keeps his own style in purity to be recognized easily. So the great instrumentalist’s seventh album features a musical material which is again executed in the shared territory of folk and blues with signature solos. What is surprising is that Mark has been able to make a double CD of ninety minutes.

A two CD trip

Privateering never puts it directly, but gives enough hints that almost all of its tracks are, sometimes invisibly, barely noticeably, bound by the topic of traveling. Probably, Mark was influenced by his participation in Bob Dylan’s big tour, which caused him to break the recording process. Whatever the reason, even the art cover’s central image is an old and battered van. The travel evidently is tiring for the album’s main character. The record opening theme Redbud Tree is a slack strumming and Mark’s weary voice. Haul Away takes over the unhurried pace, but the song clearly displays Celtic motifs, which will become the album’s trademark feature eventually. Later on, we have a much livelier and more energetic piece called Don’t Forget Your Hat with a merry harmonica tune, and here the cycle ends. This is how, from sad and slow to upbeat and fun, the track listing changes, and the listener will be surprised how fast the ninety minutes of Privateering have passed. The secret is as easy as not. Apart from guitar, the album’s music is decorated with a great variety of instruments, including the most remarkable clarinet, flute and accordion. You will also be fascinated by Mark’s typical delivery with his never fading sense of humor.

Mark retained all his best qualities

Curiously enough in the first half of Privateering the highlights are bluesy light songs like Corned Beef City, and Hot Or What, while in the second half the strongest impression is left by slow and atmospheric tracks Kingdom Of Gold, and Dream Of The Drowned Submariner. This is just to prove that Mark’s band, where his Dire Straits fellowman Guy Fletcher plays again, possesses a wide set of tools, and the leader has a perfect fell for what to play and how to play it. We are aware of Mark’s shortcomings. He stubbornly keeps working in rather tight stylistic boundaries because he is not the greatest author. Critics also keep noticing his weakness in lyrics with a lot of trite metaphors used there, but, somehow, none of these is important when listening to Privateering. The still flawless guitar work alongside parts on the other instruments make the listener value the sense of the entire album and forget less successful details. Mark Knopfler’s new album is a very solid continuation to his solo discography.