CD Review: David Gilmour


David Gilmour
On an Island
Columbia
By David Chiu

While fans wait and wonder on when the next Pink Floyd record since 1994’s The Division Bell will ever see the light of day, guitarist David Gilmour’s third solo album will have to do. On an Island is by no means a significant departure from the sound Gilmour forged in the band—his airy vocals, the relaxed atmospherics, the obligatory long instrumental introduction, and, of course, his signature wailing guitar—are quite present. A couple of the songs will even remind one of old Floyd: “The Blue,” for example, sounds like the long-lost number on Meddle, while the jazzy “Red Sky at Night” (with Gilmour on sax!) could find its place on Wish You Were Here. Despite a few aggressive tracks in “Take a Breath,” the rest of the record is very reflective and somber—the New Age sensibilities could rival that of Enya’s. (Gilmour’s wife, the journalist Polly Samson, shares co-writing credit on a few tracks, although Gilmour’s best collaborator in the lyrics department will always be the band’s former visionary Roger Waters). Gilmour does for some moments break away from the confines of the arena rock he has been renowned for with the folk blues of “This Heaven” and the waltz-like “Smile.” His guitar playing remains ever magnificent, particularly on the title track and “Pocketful of Stones”—it has a lyrical language of its own. In spite of an all-star cast of musicians that included David Crosby, Graham Nash, co-producer Phil Manzanera, Robert Wyatt, and old Floyd band mate Richard Wright, On an Island is a relatively low-key, intimate record without the spectacle that has always marked Pink Floyd’s later albums—that could disappoint a few fans. If it was intentionally made that way, then it’s also quite respectable.

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