Mark Knopfler

Kill to Get Crimson

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Given that Kill to Get Crimson follows Mark Knopfler's yearlong collaboration with Emmylou Harris -- inaugurated by the album All the Roadrunning and followed by a tour, subsequently documented on the live set Real Live Roadrunning -- it might be reasonable to presume that it bears a slightly heavier folk influence, as if Emmylou had rubbed off on the guitarist. And that's true to a certain extent: "Heart Full of Holes" has an old-timey carnivalesque lilt to its middle section and "Secondary Waltz" is simple, low-key two-step driven by accordions, while "The Fish and the Bird" is a spare allegory that recalls old folk tunes, as does the stately grace of "Madame Geneva's." Also, "Let It All Go" (the song that bears the lyric that lends the album the title) is a minor key dirge that could be seen as a winding folk tune, but it hearkens back to the evocative mood pieces that often up ate up large sections of the second side of a Dire Straits album, and that's hardly the only time either Knopfler's old band or his solo works are brought to mind here. Despite the few folk trappings, most of Kill to Get Crimson resembles nothing so much as another tastefully low-key album from Knopfler, one that resides comfortably in his mellow Americana niche, where country, blues, and rock gently blend into a sound that resembles no particular style but evokes plenty of past sounds. Knopfler rides this soft groove as easily as he ever has, maybe even a little easier than usual, but the big difference here is although mood is key -- as it always is on a Knopfler solo album -- the emphasis is not on guitar; it's on the song. Thing is, the mood tends to trump the sound unless the album is heard closely, which is something Knopfler's dedicated cult will surely do, but less dedicated listeners can't be blamed if they enjoy this merely as background music if they choose to enjoy this at all.

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