Review Summary: More of the same from the voice and guitar of Dire Straits; haunting melodies and detailed storylines woven into a tapestry of folk culture and community.
A blissfully peaceful journey from start to finish, this latest offering from Mark Knopfler, the voice and guitar of Dire Straits, is another showcase of the man’s Homeric ability to weave a fine tapestry of vivid storylines and colourful characters over a lush fabric of beautifully haunting music.
This album contains, without a doubt, some of Mark Knopfler’s best work. The ‘Scaffolder’s Wife’ tells the tale of a hard working yet gracefully ageing woman over the backdrop of gorgeous flute and guitar duets. The wistful ‘In the Sky’ floats along over 7 minutes with a beautiful saxophone lead. The more upbeat ‘Punish the Monkey’ features some heavily Hank Marvin influenced melodies and a surprisingly catchy chorus.
Each of these songs perfectly displays Mark Knopfler’s well-established gift for melody and, above all, rarely does this talented guitarist wander off on a tangent. Leads and solos are always constructed with the intent of adding something to the song, rather than simply displaying talent. His ability is instead displayed in integration of a number of instruments into the album; the Celtic jig and accordion of ‘Let It All Go’, which tells the story of a painter passionate about colour, and the ‘Fish and the Bird’s fiddle, which combines with some beautiful crescendos and diminuendos to leave the listener tingling.
However, there is a distinct lack of musical variety here. Whilst many of Mark Knopfler’s albums are largely populated by downbeat numbers which skillfully avoid being melancholy, here the balance is tipped too far. Whilst it does have the result of forcing you to listen carefully to the intricate details in order to firmly establish the differences to the songs (not a bad thing), the base similarities can become tiresome.
Kill to get Crimson is one of those slow-burning albums that quietly creeps up on the unconscious mind, subtly establishing itself as soft, delicate gem. Variety may be a problem for some people, but for fans of the man, this is just an extension of an ever impressive and consistent catalogue.