Meg Reid has spent her life moving down the eastern coast, from the wilds of maritime Canada to the tame seaside town of Wilmington, North Carolina. She is done in by old books, Cook-Out hamburgers, and pedal steel guitars.
The album is anchored by Nona Marie Invie’s richly timbered voice and powerful piano. She uses her voice much like a reed instrument, a clarinet or oboe. On tracks like “Meet in the Dark,” she runs it through beautiful and emotive lines, drawing out the syllables of her sparse and clear lyrics. A surprising number of the lyrics are outright statements—“When you want everything to stay the same / things change,” for example—repeated again and again, infused with different pressures and burdens by Invie’s bare voice.
But more exciting to me is the actual concert, the show. The lush red curtains of the Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving night. Robbie Robertson’s gold Strat and soulful solos, including the extended one he’s forced to take when Eric Clapton’s strap malfunctions and nearly sends his own Stratocaster to the floor. The feeling of excitement in the crowd.
Mark Knopfler loves America. Its stories, its music, its history. He has written songs about Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, Sonny Liston and Elvis Presley, trawler men and strip club owners. He has a song on his 2004 album, Shangri-La, about Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s. It has a crazy infectious hook. These are the kind of characters that populate Knopfler’s America. This is, after all, the songwriter who hit it biggest by having Sting yell, “I want my MTV.”