14 Songs, 1 Hour 5 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After recuperating from a serious motorcycle accident, Mark Knopfler bounced back to release Shangri-La in 2004, and the veteran singer/guitarist/songwriter seems to have plenty to say here. Knopfler’s long-time affinity for American roots music is reflected in “Back to Tupelo” (a brooding commentary on Elvis and his handlers), “Song for Sunny Liston” (a salute to the legendary boxer carrying a bluesy sting) and “Boom, Like That” (a talk-sung sketch of a famous hamburger magnate). From the melancholy “5:15 AM” to the languid “Stand-Up Guy” and the shimmering, Latin-inflected “Postcards from Paraguay,” the songs take on the feel of a fiction anthology, with each lyric underscored by Knopfler’s deft, incisive guitar work. True, tracks like “Whoop De Doo” barely inch along, but sometimes the laid-back settings have a film-noir quality, as in the sinister “Sucker Row.” When he chooses, Knopfler can invoke the wry spirit of his Dire Straits days, as on “Don’t Crash the Ambulance.” Overall, Shangri-La is at once earthy and elegant, tinged with cool fire.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After recuperating from a serious motorcycle accident, Mark Knopfler bounced back to release Shangri-La in 2004, and the veteran singer/guitarist/songwriter seems to have plenty to say here. Knopfler’s long-time affinity for American roots music is reflected in “Back to Tupelo” (a brooding commentary on Elvis and his handlers), “Song for Sunny Liston” (a salute to the legendary boxer carrying a bluesy sting) and “Boom, Like That” (a talk-sung sketch of a famous hamburger magnate). From the melancholy “5:15 AM” to the languid “Stand-Up Guy” and the shimmering, Latin-inflected “Postcards from Paraguay,” the songs take on the feel of a fiction anthology, with each lyric underscored by Knopfler’s deft, incisive guitar work. True, tracks like “Whoop De Doo” barely inch along, but sometimes the laid-back settings have a film-noir quality, as in the sinister “Sucker Row.” When he chooses, Knopfler can invoke the wry spirit of his Dire Straits days, as on “Don’t Crash the Ambulance.” Overall, Shangri-La is at once earthy and elegant, tinged with cool fire.

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