The Ragpicker’s Dream
Like a long, slow tidal wave rising, the fade-in to “Why Aye Man” heralds Mark Knopfler’s first new release in two years. This cut-time anthem finds Knopfler’s lyrics in top form: “We had no way of staying afloat/ We had to leave on a ferry boat/ Economic refugees …” The song details the plight of British working men forced to seek employment in Germany: “German buildings/ British built"—just to drive the irony home.
“Devil Baby” is set amongst the denizens of a sideshow, pinned by the observation: “It’s hard to find love anywhere.” “A Place Where We Used to Live” reminds just a little of Chuck Berry’s old jazzy ballad “Dream Cottage For Sale"; it follows the narrator’s subtly melancholy recollection of a once-shared flat, his “little girl” now out in “the big wide world” and reduced to “just a memory.” Throughout the CD, Knopfler’s guitar work is intricate and confident; however, he doesn’t really cut loose much anywhere.
Closing the CD is "Old Pigweed," another song hinged on a wise observation: "A spoonful of forgiveness/ Goes a long, long way/ And we should all do our best/ To get along." Words rendered ever more profound of late with each passing day.