Release Date: Sep 28, 2004
Record label: Warner Brothers
Shangri-La, Mark Knopfler's fourth solo release and his first since breaking his collarbone, shoulder, and seven ribs in a motorcycle crash in March 2003, finds the eternally laid-back Dire Straits frontman in familiar territory. Instead of constructing a song cycle about his brush with mortality -- the wry "Don't Crash the Ambulance" aside -- he uses his warm baritone and effortless guitar work to ruminate on everything from the plight of the modern fisherman -- the beautiful and rustic "Trawlerman's Song" -- to the entrepreneurial skills of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc ("Boom, Like That"). Knopfler has more or less abandoned the British folk and Celtic-influenced pop that began to surface on his previous two recordings, opting instead for a full-blown yet quiet and considerate collection of country-folk ballads and bluesy, midtempo dirges that revel in their uncharacteristic sparseness -- one of the better examples of the latter is the gutsy, backwoods boxing tale "Song for Sonny Liston.