The first track was released in the UK as the single. True Love Will Never Fade immediately showcases the brilliant 60's sounding production of the album, folky as hell. The song tells the story of a tattoo artist who meets his true love(and then loses her) as one of his clients. Mark's lyrics are effective and the overall message of the song is beautiful. Mark's signature clean strat tone is showcased on the song, albeit much more laid back than earlier appearances. The drumming is straight up and less powerful than Chad Cromwell, but all is well. The song is an excellent track to start off on.
Track number two is entitled The Scaffolder's Wife. It is a dark and almost eery song, and as the title suggests it is a character piece about an always worrying "scaffolder's wife." The chorus is above average and the track features some fine flute and (scarce) guitar work, but overall it is a disengaging track that loses focus and goes on for far too long at the end.
This is followed by The Fizzy and the Still, which sounds very similar to the first two tracks(one of the biggest problems this album has is that every song sounds alike.) Mark purges along with "proper" singing, whilst the music keeps moving along predictably. A boring track.
Heart Full of Holes is a wonderful song, that features some lovely resonator playing. And some, finally, un-dull lyrics and singing. I'm not that keen on the arrangement, but it's a pleasant song to listen to, with some fine dynamics. Despite its' relatively long length, it seems to whisk along at a fine pace.
Standout track, We Can Get Wild, is my second favourite song on the record. Its' one of those songs, where I just felt it was written just for me. The lyrics are beautiful and speak right to the heart and describe perfectly how I feel about my life "They're calling it a teenage scene/yes and i have a dream/don't know if i'll be a star/but i'm gonna play guitar/i've seen this rocking cat/i wanna be just like that/listen up right here/it's gonna be a beautiful year." The rocking cat in my case is Mark Knopfler, those lyrics mean a lot to me and the song is very special to me, personally. As for the instrumentation in the song, the organ is excellent, the guitar is biting, and the bass and drums hit the mark, spot on.
Secondary Waltz was a song Mark originally put down as a demo in 1995, it tells a story about his childhood, told from his point of view as a youngster. The memories of the gym teacher he refers to in the song, Macintyre, obviously stuck with him through life. The song is indeed in waltz form. The panic of youth is perfectly captured in the lyrics(some of the them incredibly funny.) Guitar and Accordian work is top notch, a good track.
The American single, Punish the Monkey, takes me back to Ride Across the River, with its' off beat rhythm and atmospheric synth work. The lyrics are good and the chorus is catchy. It's good to see Marks' bridges are getting less awkward as well, though there's still room for improvement.
The line 'Kill to Get Crimson' comes from the song Let It All Go, which is sung from the point of view of a painter. It is a good-not great song, the chorus is touching. The lyrics are indeed, heartbreaking, showing just how attached people can get to their passions in life.
Beautiful organ and guitar open Behind with the Rent. It then launches into a gospel-y rhythm, with Mark darkly singing the lyrics. The chorus is solid, and so is the song. It will never be a favourite of mine, though, as it starts to become repetitive by the end.
The incredibly folky The Fish and the Bird is driven by quiet resonator pick and electric out-of-your-face notes, side by side with sparse brush hit drums. As always with straight up folk songs that Mark tries to pull off(Je Suis Desole immediately comes to mind), this is an almost boring song, that I would really have no interest in, if it weren't by Mark.
Madame Geneva's keeps in tradition with a lot of the other songs on the album, eery and almost grim, with acoustic guitar at the heart. This one's lyrics are a lot stronger than tracks two and three however, going to a ballad writers' drinking problems, and is actually enjoyable to listen to.
The absolute best track on the record comes with album closer In the Sky. The melody is just beautiful. Mark's lyrics are well inspired and the song is best heard with your eyes closed. Chris White's(formerly of dire straits) saxophone really is stunning. This track alone is worth the album price.
Although some tracks really just fell on their face(Scaffolder's wife, Fizzy and The Still and Fish and the Bird) the fantastic tracks make up for them. An uneven album, that features some of Mark's worst work and easily some of his best.