One Deep River album cover

Filled with trains and deeply introspective, Mark Knopfler's new album, One Deep River, delivers another collection of songs in his wonderful, distinctive style. While there aren't as many stand-out tracks for me as Down The Road Whenever, the following highlights flow perfectly with his existing catalog.

Two Pairs of Hands

As Danny Cummings describes, he told Mark a story about his friend's step mother's mother saying, exasperated, that "I've only got two pairs of hands" and Mark picked right up on that and turned it into the slightly humorous basis of this song describing what it feels like to be on stage in front of a huge crowd.

Ahead of The Game

Ahead of The Game evokes beautiful imagery of mundane things, reminiscent of One Song At A Time or Good On You Son. For example, when he describes "nothing but the hits in a room downtown, they're noisy as hell but nice. People don't usually get to play in there, more than a time or twice." You can easily picture playing the gig at a small, crowded pub and wondering if you'll be invited back or not.

Smart Money

Similar to My Bacon Roll, Smart Money paints the picture of an artist past their prime but not wanting to admit it as they struggle to keep up with the next generation. The catchy chorus, "the smart money ain't on your dog now" reminds the subject how everything is constantly changing and evolving, and if you don't evolve with it you will be left behind.

Scavenger's Yard

This funky, unique track is an incredible departure from the rest of the album (and all of his solo work) in its sound; I love it. In particular, the tiger's "roar" is a nice touch.

Tunnel 13

Evoking hints of Sands of Nevada, this song demonstrates Mark's penchant for weaving real historical events into his songs, in this case about a train heist from the 1920s. Not only is it a recounting of historical events, but at the end of the song he also reflects on how the wood in his guitar came from the part of the world where these events took place.

One Deep River

The final track, One Deep River, is deeply reflective and emotional. There are multiple layers to the metaphor, starting literally with the River Tyne, first referenced way back in Southbound Again on the first Dire Straits album and a constant fixture in Mark's childhood (and featured on the album cover). At the next level, the lyrics speak of a good friend who is no longer here, like Chet Atkins. Finally, although probably not intentionally, this track could describe Mark Knopfler himself as the one deep river of songs. As he has often said, once he releases a song into the world it takes on a life of its own, just as a river cuts its own path through the landscape.

Final Thoughts

While not as rocking as his Dire Straits days, Mark Knopfler continues to deliver thought-provoking, poetic lyrics and rich music in his distinctive style. One Deep River is well-worth a listen.

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