On Every Street

In the six years since the release of the Dire Straits’ last studio album, the band’s auteur, Mark Knopfler, devoted most of his time to writing quaint New Age-ish movie scores and recording slight country-folk side projects. On Every Street shows the effects of Knopfler’s hiatus: With its modest boogies, genteel ballads, and half-awake tempos, this may be the most self-effacing comeback album ever made by a platinum-level act. Knopfler recycles the ”Money for Nothing” riff for ”Heavy Fuel,” but most of the record is so low-key and tastefully atmospheric-full of lulling saxophones and dobros and Knopfler’s crisp-as-always guitar picking and reedy voice — that you may think he decided his future lies in Muzak royalties. Granted, Knopfler — rock’s youngest geezer — has always seemed too world-weary, too suspicious of the music’s capacity for joy. But without the hooky songs and guitar-hero moves of the band’s early work, he merely comes across as an insulated, craft-obsessed bore. And the lyrics about sleazy TV preachers and all the nasty, naughty wimmenfolk in the world make you root for both the women and the evangelists. Perhaps if he erased the vocals and looked for a movie that needs an ambient soundtrack…C-

On Every Street
  • Music