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David Gilmour - On An Island CD (album) cover


David Gilmour


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3.54 | 389 ratings

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4 stars I'd like to be able to say the spirit of classic PINK FLOYD is alive and well on David Gilmour's latest solo album, his first in over twenty years (since 1984's lackluster "About Face"). But strictly speaking it isn't entirely true, and that's good news, believe or not. Sure, there's enough of the old magic to please even the most diehard fan of the long-dormant group, but more than that it sounds as if Gilmour has finally shaken the PINK FLOYD monkey off his back, liberating himself from the burden of all those expectations, which dragged down his old band like a ten-ton ball and chain.

In its own modest, undemonstrative way it's a stunning achievement, although you may not think so at first exposure. This is the work of a musician comfortable in his middle age and at ease with the world around him, and like an old acquaintance suddenly throwing a welcome arm across your shoulder it can take you happily by surprise. Look at the understated cover art, and consider some of the song titles: "Smile", "This Heaven", "A Pocketful of Stars", "Then I Close My Eyes".all of them sharing an attitude of casual relaxation far removed from the usual rock 'n' roll treadmill.

Only one song ("Take a Breath") can be considered even remotely aggressive; the rest of the album is more comfortable than an old pair of bedroom slippers, marked by some of the warmest guitar work of Gilmour's long career. Listen to "The Blue", a lush but otherwise unassuming ballad played at an almost somnolent tempo, suddenly pierced by the pure white light of a Gilmour slide- guitar solo beamed straight down from Cloud Nine.

Fans looking to unlock the PINK FLOYD connection will find their key in the band's earlier, pre-"Dark Side of the Moon" material. You can draw a straight line from anything here to song's like "Fearless" and "Fat Old Sun" (from the "Meddle" and "Atom Heart Mother" albums, respectively), and even to some of the less misanthropic compositions by the young Roger Waters, an ironic comparison, but one I'm sure a gentleman like Gilmour wouldn't disapprove of (I'm thinking of the early Floyd tracks "Grantchester Meadows" and "If").

But make no mistake: Gilmour isn't in any way trading on past glories. The songwriting is too singular and self-assured for this to be considered the best album PINK FLOYD never made (which it otherwise might have been, happily diluting the sour aftertaste left by "The Wall" and its copycat follow-ups). The album was immaculately produced with the help of fellow guitar hero Phil Manzanera, and boasts a sterling cast of supporting players, including Robert Wyatt, David Crosby and Graham Nash, and a host of other familiar names.

Perhaps Gilmour needed a decade away from the limelight for an album this strong to properly gestate. We can only hope another twenty years don't pass before his next effort.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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