Review by Taf Rock for MPM
It’s been a while since anyone played their geetar on the MTV!!! It’s been even longer since Mark Knopfler played his guitar on the MTV as frontman of the legendary band Dire Straits (the band eventually breaking up for good in 1995).
In fact Mark has been pretty quiet and mainly out of the public limelight since 2018 when he released his last solo album Down The Road Wherever. Mark last toured in 2019.
So it is with great pleasure I receive news of a new Knopfler album. One Deep River features a dozen self-penned tracks and is due for release April 12 via his own British Grove record label in association with EMI. Amongst the musicians joining Mark on the album are Jim Cox and Guy Fletcher on keys, Glenn Worf (bass), Ian Thomas (drums), Danny Cummings (percussion) and Richard Bennett (guitar).
Ahead of the Game serves as a four minute sampler from the forthcoming album which will be Mark’s tenth solo album. The song could almost be about Knopfler’s formative years as a musician, telling the story of a struggling singer/songwriter trying hard to make ends meet and make it in the music industry.
It’s a sheer joy to hear that classic distinctive finger picking Knopfler sound on guitar once again alongside his unique vocal style. It’s almost as if he’s never gone away. The riff could quite easily come straight off any of the legendary Dire Straits albums from the past.
We ease into the song gently with laid back bass and drum rhythms from Worf and Thomas, hints of country, folk and blues all thrown into the melting pot before Knopfler supplies that trademark sound that could be no-one other than Mark Knopfler. ‘There’s nothing but the hits in a room downtown … People don’t usually get to play in there … more than a time or twice’. The subject of the song is dreaming of making it big time one day.
In the meantime he’s ‘playing for the door … with sawdust on the floor … worn out and weary … staying ahead of the game’. A true to life story that many a musician can identify with.
The 74-year old Sultan of Swing shows no sign of slacking, his vocals delivering the lyrics precisely and perfectly whilst his guitar is still a joy to behold. Knopfler has served up a tasty and satisfying hors d’oeuvres in Ahead of the Game. I eagerly await the serving of the main course – One Deep River – on April 12 to see if the other eleven tracks prove to be as succulent and flavoursome.
Pre-order here: https://markknopfler.lnk.to/odr