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Mark Knopfler | Down The Road Wherever

Dire Straits founder Knopfler stays in his lane on his ninth solo outing.

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Life in the fast lane it is not. Dire Straits singer-guitarist Mark Knopfler is clearly in no hurry to get where he’s going on his ninth solo album Down The Road Wherever. These 16 numbers — mostly dusky roots fare, with occasional side trips into late-night jazz, low-key funk and ’60s R&B — cruise along smoothly in low gear, never raising the rpms above a gentle gait. There are no sudden twists, turns and shifts, and Knopfler and his trim band never veer out of their wistful, nostalgic and subdued middle lane. Truth is, the sonic scenery is sometimes so consistent and unremarkable that you could easily get road hypnosis, were it not for two essential factors: His world-weary Dylanesque pipes and his unmistakably individual fretwork. As usual, the latter is the true star of the show: With his usual effortlessness grace, Knopfler fingerpicks a seemingly endless collection of tasteful ringing licks and stunning, evocative solos that are worth the trip all on their own. Put the seat back and relax.