Picks and Pans Review: Golden Heart

updated 04/15/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/15/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Mark Knopfler

While the band he cofounded, Dire Straits, lives on in that state of suspended animation called classic rock radio, Knopfler steps out on his first solo effort, soundtracks like Local Hero notwithstanding. (Technically, the band is still together, but is anyone clamoring for new Dire Straits material?) The dexterous guitarist recorded this eclectic but uneven album in places as diverse as Nashville and Dublin, and the indigenous sounds of those musically rich locales flavor the record. When Knopfler keeps to such traditional genres, he is on steady ground. On "Je Suis Désolé," a Cajun-flecked romp, he lets guest artist Sonny Landreth air out some savory licks on his National steel guitar. But on other cuts, he stumbles. "Cannibals" is a shameless reworking of the Straits hit "Walk of Life," while a song about Madame Marcos ("Imelda") and her excesses in the '80s seems passé. If he is to forge a new identity as a solo artist, Knopfler may need to lose those dated reminders of his Sultans of Swing past. (Warner Bros.)

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