Review Summary: Knopfler delivers yet again
Mark Knopfler – Shangri-La
Shangri-La is the fourth solo album by singer-songwriter Mark Knopfler released on September 28, 2004. My love for this album and Mark himself is immense, but I am going to attempt to be unbiased and tell it how it is with this album. Good thing for me this album is absolutely outstanding. It was already 2004 when this was released so Mark’s Dire Straits days were over and so were the days of long solos. Songs like Telegraph Road, Tunnel of Love, and Money for Nothing were only to be heard in concert now. But he carried on of course with his solo career. Golden Heart was released in 1996 and with this it was easy to tell Mark had a new style and vibe to his music, which I very much enjoy.
It isn’t hard to tell on this album that Knopfler is still the guitarist he was with Dire Straits. Phenomenal guitar work from beginning to end. But the first thing I would like to speak on is “5:15 AM”, the first track on the album. This song starts soft with slow strums on the guitar and then Mark comes in singing,
Snow laying all around
A collier cycles home
From his night shift underground
This is the beginning to a story about coal miners that he proceeds to tell while the song builds up. It is actually very exciting. There are very great lyrics all around this song. It is one of the longer songs on the album, nearing 6 minutes in length. At about the 5 minute marker the song slows down from a very upbeat pace. Mark finishes up the story and the song comes to an end. This is a very strong start to the album and he is not yet ready to slow down because the next track is “Boom, Like That.” This song has a very rocking guitar riff that anyone could jam to. He tells another story about Ray Kroc and McDonalds. Again great storytelling and lyrics. This is another stand out track.
The album follows a very chill vibe which I have become accustomed to with Mark’s solo work. The guitar playing on this album has a great sound and a much laid back feel. By the time you get to track 6 the album still shows no signs of slowing down and “Our Shangri-La” begins. This is a beautiful piece. Just an outstanding song. He begins with the lines,
Its the end of a perfect day for all the surfer boys and girls
The suns dropping down in the bay and falling off the world
He talks about being with the perfect friends and perfect girl on an amazing night and how they are all going to remember it. Amazing lyrics on this track and great guitar work. The album proceeds with more great tracks, “Everybody Pays”, “Song for Sonny Liston”, “Postcards from Paraguay”, “All That Matters”. Once you get to “Don’t Crash the Ambulance” which is track 14, you have reached the end of the album, but don’t worry, he isn’t going to leave you with a crappy closer. This is actually one of my favorites on the album. Mark sings from George H. W. Bush’s point of view talking to his son, while giving him a tour of the White House saying things like,
Don't often open up this floor
Since I handed in my gun
What all these keys are for
Now my tour of duty's done
You got to know the switches
Now you got your turn
Watch and learn, junior
Watch and learn
It is quite amusing. Mark delivers this song with great guitar and writing skills, closing out the album right.
Shangri-La is one of Knopfler’s best solo efforts, if not the best. It doesn’t get old quick and has a very high replay value. If you liked any of the work he did with Dire Straits this is the album you should check out. He keeps a very consistent pace with this one and does not disappoint.