Mark Knopfler's debut non-soundtrack solo album, Golden Heart, was, in effect, the follow-up to the last Dire Straits studio album, On Every Street (1991). But it was also a compendium of the various musical endeavors in which Knopfler had engaged since emerging as a major figure in 1978. "Imelda" was cast in the mold of "Money for Nothing," with its trademark electric guitar riff and sardonic lyrics about Imelda Marcos, and other songs resembled Dire Straits songs, notably "Cannibals," which recalled "Walk of Life." But "A Night in Summer Long Ago" was presented in a Scots/Irish traditional folk style, complete with a lyric about a knight and a queen and would have fit nicely on Knopfler's soundtrack for The Princess Bride, and "Are We in Trouble Now" was a country ballad featuring pedal steel guitar and the piano playing of Nashville session ace Hargus "Pig" Robbins that would have been appropriate for Knopfler's duo album with Chet Atkins. For all that, there was little on the album that was new or striking, and Knopfler seemed to fall back on familiar guitar techniques while intoning often obscure lyrics. You get the feeling that there was a story behind each song, but except in the cases of "Rudiger," a character study of an autograph hunter, and "Done with Bonaparte," the lament of a 19th century French soldier on the retreat from Moscow, you might have to read Knopfler's interviews to find out what the songs were actually about. Knopfler hadn't used the opportunity of a solo album to challenge himself, and at the same time he had lost the group identity (however illusory) provided by the Dire Straits name. The result was listenable but secondhand.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann