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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 30 May 2006
There are two faces to Mark Knopfler - one is the more public, growling rocker we see on Dire Straits classics such as "Money for Nothing", and the other is the more modern, mature, sedate solo artist. I hesitate to say country, even with this album as some might, as Mark Knopfler's work is in many ways unique and as a consequence it falls between genres - not rocky enough for the rockers, not country enough for Nashville.

It is the latter that Knopfler seems to have chosen to target more decisively with this latest album, and by recruiting Emmylou Harris to assist on vocals & creative input, he has certainly got closer to Nashville than any album before.

Fans of Knopfler's solo work, like myself, but who are not fans of country, should not be put off by this connection - this album is still 90% Knopfler and follows a similar vein to previous albums. Emmylou also adds many great qualities to the work: Firstly, we get a very strong, higher voice that compliments Marks characteristic bassy tones and can 'dance' around his guitar licks. Secondly, we get a female personae with which the two songwriters can work into the songs, producing some female perspectives on things and some wonderful back-and-forth duets, in the vein of The Beautiful South (or Cash and Carter?). The potential generated here feels bigger than this album alone.

Whilst many rockers will say that Mark has turned his back on what made him truly great (his fluid rock guitar solos), there is a slight return to lead-work here too. Leaving Emmylou to do what she does best, Mark can relax a little on the vocal and focus on the guitar. No screaming solos here, but a definite increase in the amount of lead guitar over rhythm guitar compared to recent solo albums.

Ultimately, whether you enjoy this album will depend on which side of Knopfler you prefer - guitar heavy, Dire Straits rock fans will feel let down (he still rocks live, BTW). Country or songwriting fans might find this the best album yet, and those who are happy with a balance won't be disappointed by this album, seeing it as a natural step in the evolution of MK's music.
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on 30 October 2006
While I have considered posting reviews of albums this is the first review I have ever taken the trouble to write about.

Knopfler, like Dylan, is producing the best music of his life. Knopfler's last (Shangri-la) is also superb and you have to ask yourself why are both of them still playing? They don't need the money. They don't care about the reviews - they are playing the way they want to and both are playing with the best guys in town. I've seen both live in the last year and neither went for fancy sets, clever lights and gizomos, they just played.....

Yes, neither of them is rocking the house down, but there's a lot more to life than trying to shake your brains out of your ears in front of a stack.

This music on this album is perfect, utterly perfect. The lyrics, the narrative, the musicianship, the production are all sublime.

If you add to that the collaboration with Emmylou Harris, this album is nothing short of remarkable. I can't say I've listened to many `duet' projects over the years - most of them are contrived nonsense featuring Tom Jones - but this is the first one that actually works.

This is an album you need to play for a while and come back to before you pass judgement. I won't do the tedious track by track run-through of comments, I'll only say it's a great album that should have had a lot more attention than it has had. If there's one churlish criticism it's that some of the tracks fade out on some superb guitar playing a little too soon - just 20 seconds more would have put me in heaven forever.

If you don't like this album you haven't got a heart, you haven't got a soul and you don't know what love - and life - are all about.
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on 8 May 2006
Mark Knopfler has done it again. What had me slightly apprehensive beforehand has turned out, as usual, to be a real gem. Anyone who is wise enough to purchase this should realise that they've "dug up a diamond".

Knopfler's guitar isn't as pronounced as his voice this time round; no crazy "Sultans of Swing"-type solos, I'm afraid, but this album still has its share of pacy tracks: both the opening song, "Beachcombing", and the single, "This Is Us", move along at a good pace. He's still getting great sounds out of his guitar, and his voice, which has undoubtedly improved over time, harmonises wonderfully with Emmylou's - suprisingly well, perhaps, considering you couldn't get two more different vocal styles.

But, hey, Knopfler is only one part of this album. It really wouldn't be anywhere near as good without Emmylou Harris. Honestly, before I heard these tracks, I hadn't realised she - a country singer, I'd have classed her - could sing so beautifully. I'm still not much of a fan of her solo music, but this collaborative album takes her vocal talents and adds the kind of songwriting and playing that really demonstrates she's more than "just a country singer", as some might think of her.

A quick rundown of some of the standout tracks:

"Beachcombing" is a good solid album opener, and whets your appetite for the tasty vocals to come later on.

"This Is Us" is a fast-paced track and will probably be your most-listened-to track for a few days - again, well-crafted, it features Mark and Emmylou as husband and wife singing about their life. Its piano solo to end is a nice touch, and many people will be able to relate to the theme of the song.

"Red Staggerwing" is the most overtly country track...I can't say I liked it much to begin with, but it's growing on me, as so many of Mark Knopfler's songs do, I find!

"All the Roadrunning" is slow and thoughtful, provoking thoughts about one's own life: have we all made good use of our lives?

Country music, country music...I really shouldn't like this album, but for some reason I do. Admittedly, it's more like country-rock, but still, I'm really more of a blues and rock man. In my opinion, though, Mark Knopfler is now good enough to bring out brilliant albums in any genre he chooses, so while I wait in hope for a blues album, I'm more than happy with this!
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on 30 May 2006
This album contains some very catchy songs like "This is us", but also a few that slowly grow on you, and just get better and better like the title track. Harris' voice make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and Knopfler's guitar is as haunting as ever. All in all a beautiful collaboration which fully lived up to the expectations.
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on 6 April 2006
Having heard 75% of this album and knowing all of knopfler's work solo and Dire Straits I feel I can say this is another great album from the workd's greatest musician.
This is Us will be the song that speaks to most people. It concerns a married couple loking back over photos sparking all kinds of memories of their life, somethig everyone can relate to. It is a fast rocker in the same vein as Gravy Train. It features a great solo from Mark and a quite outro, you can almost imagine the couple just sitting in eachother's arms in silence just happily thinking about their lives together as the piano and pedal steels brews in the background. The song is sung between both Harris and Knopfer and they create a dialogue beautifully, Emmy takes Knofper's work to a different level as she can reach spots that Knopfler can not vocally.
The closer is a tear jerker inspired by 9/11, specifically the phone calls from the burning towers. Although making no direct reference to that day the imagery evoked is very sad. But the outro solo is somewhat uplifiting as if trying to take positive from people's love for eachother.
Another gem is Donkeytown, this is the song that utilises Emmy's voice best in my opinion. Knopfler plays the rhythm in parts with Emmy harnonising above it, very beautiful.
Staggerwing in heeped in country tradition and is kind of fun. I dug up a diamond is very atmospheric a little like Sucker Row from Shangri La.
The title song concerns musicians on the road doing what they love, the song gives individual verses to both artists and works really well with a great melody. One of Knopfler's finest!
10 of the 12 songs are written by Knopfler who is clearly the stronger writer of the two but the use Emmy's voice creates an album where all musicians play to their strengths.
Compared to Knopfler's other noted duets album, Neck and Neck with Chet Atkins, All the road running stands up to it easily and to be honest is probably even better.
Knopfler's guitar is very prominant with THAT les paul tone that has graced songs like boom like that and are we in trouble now.
Some have touted this album for a grammy and I would fully endorse that opinion, is is mesmerising stuff from Knopfler and Emmy. Roll on the tour!
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on 8 July 2006
The partnership really works. A lot of the tracks are achingly beautiful. Emmylou Harris's voice is so ethereal, but not in any way weak, and georgeously complements the masculinity of Mark Knopfler's. The instrumentation and recording is crisp and excellent. I absolutely love this CD.
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on 20 September 2006
I purchased this CD when it was released because I like both singers and am very suprised by the initial reveiw.I think the CD is excellent and like every track my wife and I both agree it is our most played CD for a very long time.Belle Star and Donkey Town are really good Red Staggerwing is a foot tapper I could go on but enough to say it is a great CD. (In our opinion)I also like Mark Knopflers The Ragpickers Dream.
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on 21 June 2006
OK, so I've always been a fan of Dire Straits, and still am, but I've also always appreciated good songs, whatever the type of music. I was introduced to Emmylou's beautiful vocals in the late 70's, and have loved all of Mark Knopfler's solo albums. To get the two together on one album is Wonderful. MK has written some lovely songs, most of which sound good to start with, and then grow on you, so that you end up loving them.

For anyone who has ever appreciated any singer-songwriters - class is what you get here, whether you choose to call it Country or not doesn't really matter.

Shame that the tour in Britain was only a couple a dates - somewhere in the Midlands would have been wonderful, and I'm sure would have been popular with any fan of Good Music
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This is another great album from Knopfler. His guitar playing is as inspiring as ever and the blend of his and Emmylou's voice is just superb. This has some amazing tracks, 'This is us' being a particular favourite. He kept this project very quiet, which only added to the joy when it was released, with such a high level of songwriting and playing. As another reviewer mentioned, Knopfler seems to be at the top of his game at the moment and this album only serves to confirm that.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 10 April 2006
This is another stunning performance by MK, undoubtedly helped by Emmylou Harris. In terms of style, we have the usual range. As is so often the case with MK's efforts these days, there will be many listeners who will love some of the songs, be ok about others, and skip through others still - but that is what makes MK's solo efforts such a joy: there is a wonderful mix of styles and sounds, and this album demonstrates once more what a fine craftsman MK is.
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