On Mark Knopfler’s seventh solo release, his storytelling is still top notch. His delivery is unwavering no matter if he’s singing about escaping death (“Redbud Tree”) or prepping for a night out on the town (“Today Is Okay.”) Impeccable instrumentation pervades as the former Dire Straits frontman rounds out his signature guitar sound with everything from bouzouki, cittern, and the unmistakably Irish uilleann pipes. But at times, even the most straightforward rock and blues numbers come across too clean for their own good. Existing fans, however, will be glad to find a large collection of songs that sit nicely in the pocket Knopfler has refined since the mid-’90s. The double disc is full of lyrical gems like “Seattle,” in which he concedes to a longtime lover, “Seattle, you’ve got to love the rain/ And we both love rain,” and the ever-catchy “I Used to Could” sung unapologetically by a man looking back on his wilder days. If Knopfler were looking back on his career while making this album, it would appear he’s determined to take his time and savor the musical trademarks he has come to be known for. Privateering is not being released in the U.S. (or on iTunes) due to a contractual dispute with Warner Bros. Records, but listeners can find the album at markknopfler.com or Amazon.
★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)