First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12
Written by John Metzger
Itís been quite awhile since Mark Knopfler has sounded as relaxed as he does on his fourth proper studio effort Shangri-La, but his arrangements are so unassuming that, at first glance, all but his most avid fans are likely to become disengaged long before the set has drawn to its conclusion. Thatís a shame, too, because his performance throughout the collection is impeccable, and beneath his subdued, folk-pop musings rests the loveliest batch of songs that heís recorded since Love Over Gold. For the most part, the tunes on Shangri-La unfold slowly, blowing past like whispers in the wind, and itís only on occasion ó the percolating groove of Postcards from Paraguay, the organ-drenched breeziness of Everybody Pays, the churning blues of Song for Sonny Liston and Doneganís Gone, and most notably, the chugging pub-rock of Boom, Like That ó that they become, relatively speaking, a bit more gusty. The problem, then, is that over the course of the albumís 66 minutes, Knopflerís many muted statements begin to blur together, and one becomes lost within his deep baritone as well as his sparse, ethereal accompaniments. In truth, Shangri-La is not a simple collection to grasp, and as a result, itís an outing that requires the utmost in perseverance from the listener so that each track is given enough time to reveal its ambient beauty. Indeed, this is an effort that might have been better suited for the LP age when four album sides offered a more digestible format for works as laborious as this initially appears.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box