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David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock CD (album) cover


David Gilmour


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3.43 | 246 ratings

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The Grand Vizier
3 stars RATTLE THAT LOCK, the latest album from David Gilmour, demonstrates that the ex-Floyd guitar player has firmly established himself apart from his former band, and feels free to do what he pleases. He doesn't seem to be bothered whether he sounds 'floydian' enough or not, though he works very hard to sound as David Gilmour is expected to. He, therefore, seems to care about his songwriting much more than about overall concept, and is focused on bringing each tune to blossom, rather than on attempts to take its development as far as possible in order to extract and exhaust its potential. The loose idea behind the album is that these songs bring about a pack of thoughts and feelings someone would live through in one day.

Three instrumentals aside, there is only one song on this album that feels like a Pink Floyd number: 'In Any Tongue'. This song is the longest track of the album and has a rather complex structure with an understated intro (whistling), and a reverse of the tune on choruses similar to 'Comfortably Numb'; it alters several times between forte and piano with each shift carefully prepared and executed. The final guitar solo resembles that of 'Comfortably Numb' and 'On The Turning Away', but does not repeat either of them; it fades out soon after its climax. Fade out is typical for this album and there is no crossfading or connecting sound effects, as if Gilmour wanted to highlight this is not Pink Floyd. These fadeouts, nevertheless, all seem to be timely and could hardly leave a listener unsatisfied, as it often happened to me when I was listening to A MOMENTARY LAPSE OF REASON. Overall, this blues-based power ballad is blessed by the kind of personal touch that makes Gilmour's late output so appealing.

Although it embodies the grace of Pink Floyd sound, 'In Any Tongue' is not the only song in the album that rocks. Starting as a lullaby, 'Today' suddenly turns into a heavy pop number, based on soulful blues harmonies. The tune celebrates a day that has not been wasted; a day that had gained its meaning; a day that brought change and thus deserves our cheers. Such a mix of rocking pop and soul was first attempted on ABOUT FACE ('All Lovers Are Deranged'), but it seems Gilmour has finally found the correct formula, and the tune shines against all odds.

The mood of other tracks is much lighter; each of them, nonetheless, possesses a distinct character. The title track is a catchy pop tune, equipped with lyrics full of unexpectedly dark and foreboding allusions. It opens with a railway station jingle but grows to sound insistent and almost menacing during the brief choir section, before returning back to the bitten track. All this can make one's dream about a journey across the hell of a big city plagued with stress and depression - let's get through it.

While the aforementioned songs differ in mood, they somehow belong to Gilmour's usual range of songwriting. 'Faces of Stone', 'Dancing Right In Front of Me' and 'The Girl In the Yellow Dress', come, on the contrary, as a surprise. The first two could have been performed by Leonard Cohen or Joe Cocker, while the third is pure jazz. All of them are crafted with care and contribute to the diversity of the album; Gilmour himself has written words for the first two, leaving the rest of the lyricist duties on the album to Polly Samson. These three songs share a nostalgic mood; their tone - deeply personal - contrasts that of 'Today', 'In Any Tongue' and the title track, each making a powerful statement.

The four remaining songs are Gilmour's signature 'watercolours' with transparent keys and heavenly guitars. The opener, the closer and two 'spacers' fill the album with light and air, ease strong emotions and let the whole thing drift with the flow. The day begins in the quiet harmony at '5am'; the closing tune 'And Then...' is a more reassuring variation on the same theme. Beauty contains an easily recognisable quote from 'A Boat Lies Waiting'; the voice of Richard Wright, heard half way into the latter, in turn, invokes the ghost of THE ENDLESS RIVER.

One can notice that while the 'concept' of the album is pretty loose, its structure is clearly tight. Six conventional songs, grouped in three pairs (each containing a statement of a more universal nature and a personal reflection), are enveloped with four 'meditations', bookending the album like twilight of dawn and dusk 'bookends' a day.

This structure is not just a whimsy; it helps to keep a diverse album focused on its main theme - the power of nostalgia. It seems, nostalgia has been a driving force behind Gilmour's creativity since long ago (WISH YOU WERE HERE or, maybe, 'Fat Old Sun' and 'Childhood's End') - something he himself stated in 'High Hopes'. Whenever he looks for substance that makes our presence real and vest one's life with its own value, he tends to borrow it from the past. Exploring this trail, he has to keep it very personal, even when he makes a statement on broader matters.

To conclude, Rattle That Lock is not a style-defining prog rock opus. If you feel that observations of the lone man with a guitar travelling on his flying Island around Solaris are important for you, go for it. If you simply don't mind some tuneful blues fun, you probably won't regret killing an hour in the company of David Gilmour. If, nonetheless, you are not in the mood for compromise, and won't take anything but a slightly amended version of The Wall (which is not necessary a bad thing)... than I would suggest waiting for the next Roger Waters album :)

The Grand Vizier | 3/5 |


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