“We are homesick most for the places we have never known,” Southern Gothic author Carson McCullers once wrote. That sentiment sums up Tracker, the eighth solo album from Dire Straits main man Mark Knopfler. Nostalgia permeates the 15 songs on the deluxe edition. The opening track, “Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes” (a buoyant mix of Celtic folk, pub rock, and American jazz) sets the tone with its account of friends recalling halcyon days. Highwaymen, sailors, blue-collar workers, carneys, faded rock stars, and drifters struggling with life and love populate these tales. Overall, Tracker stalks a yearning that is found on much of Knopfler’s work. On the striking ballad “Basil,” he settles quickly into that wistful tone, casting a spell with his bluesy fretwork supported by ambient keyboards and a sax solo. Indeed, many of these songs have a familiar ring—there’s the J. J. Cale shuffle of “Broken Bones,” the village-green bounce of “Skydiver,” and the Brothers in Arms vibe of “Beryl.” But while Knopfler taps the musical touchstones of his decades-long career, he also infuses these songs with a gentleness that is as essential to his sound as are those trademark guitar riffs. It’s a comfortable, if melancholy, place to linger.