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On An Island

David Gilmour

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Album Review

To think that David Gilmour waited 22 years to record his third solo album is a pretty solid indicator that he's not the kind of bloke to merely cash in on his name. After all, he's the guy who sold his house for four million English pounds and gave the money to charity. Perhaps now that the Pink Floyd reunion happened and he and Roger Waters are at least civil to one another, the Floyd enigma can finally find its way into the annals of history and rock legend. Of course, this brings listeners to On an Island. Those wanting something edgy and dramatic will have to wait. Some of the more misanthropic Floyd heads (and there are many) will give voice to their ire that he's written six of these ten tunes with his wife, Polly Samson, who also plays a bit of piano and sings here. You can hear them now — "She's the new Yoko Ono!" — at which point the pair will rightfully smile, quietly and bemusedly. Musically, On an Island is mostly a laid-back, utterly elegant English record. It has the feel of taking place between twilight and dawn. There are a few rumblers here to upset the balance of tranquility and stillness, like flashes of heat lightning across the dark skies, but they only add dimension to these proceedings. Produced by Gilmour, Phil Manzanera (who appears on keyboards a lot), and Chris Thomas, the album features guest spots from the likes of Richard Wright, Robert Wyatt, B.J. Cole, Floyd/Sly Stone drummer Andy Newmark, Georgie Fame, David Crosby and Graham Nash, Jools Holland, Willie Wilson, and many others.

The set opens with "Castellorizon," a moody showcase with Gilmour's guitars backed by the orchestral arrangements of Zbigniew Preisner as conducted by Robert Zeigler. Preisner's arrangements throughout are wonderful and not quite as dark as one might expect, given his track record. Atmospheric and dramatic, it offers a lovely if off impression of the album. The title track, which follows, is all breezy strummed chords, keyboards by Wright, and dreamy vocals with Gilmour backed by Crosby and Nash. It's a slow, textured, and spacy love song. "The Blue" follows suit; it too is so utterly full of air that one can hear the wind rustling through the palms. Wright's backing vocals lend a slight PF "Echoes" slant (as does the Hammond organ); the instrumentation just shimmers, hovers, and floats the track along. There are rockers here, though — "Take a Breath" features chunky razor-wire chords, Leszek Mozdzer's piano, and Manzanera's synth work winding around one another, and the mood is wonderfully plodding, dramatic, and futuristically "heavy." On the gauzy wee-hours instrumental "Red Sky at Night," Gilmour plays sax as well as guitars, and it gives way to "This Heaven," a bluesy stroller that's given deluxe organ treatment by Fame. There's a delightfully nocturnal feel that makes the track feel a bit sinister, but really it's the sound of eros making itself heard, and Gilmour contributes a biting solo and fills amid the drum samples and strings. Wyatt appears on the back-porch spacehead soundtrack-like tripnotica of "Then I Close My Eyes." His and Gilmour's wordless voices slip under and around the considerable space between instruments — which include Wyatt on cornet and percussion as well as Cole playing a Weissenborn guitar, Caroline Dale's cello, a pair of harmonicas, and of course Gilmour's high-register blues twang. The set ends on a gentle note in "Where We Start" — so much so that it may make some scratch their heads and wonder where the cranky, diffident Gilmour has wandered off to, but others will be drawn into this seductive, romantic new place where musical subtlety, spacious textures, and quietly lyrical optimism hold sway.

Customer Reviews

Nice solo album.

This is David Gilmour at his peak in his solo career. He's better off touring with Pink Floyd but his solo work still sounds great. This music is really soothing and he puts awesome guitar parts into On an Island, Take a Breath and Castelleration. This heaven is a catchy tune that anyone can sing too as well. If you like Pink Floyd and David Gilmour is your favourite band member, then this album is for you. David Gilmour is my favourite Pink Floyd member and so his solo work sounds sweet to me. He is just soo creative and good on that stratocaster. I have had this album since March of 2006 and this music still sounds great to my ears.

An excellent album

Worth every penny. I highly recommend to any Pink Floyd fan. Also recommended to those who enjoyed his previous solo efforts. Just has a great sound and overall feel. Very effective song structure which doesn't try to do too much at once. It felt like everything was "just right". I find the words hard to find to describe what I'm talking about, but suffice to say I enjoyed the effort. 5 stars.

soulful

With bluesy oriented rock songs Dave Gilmour one of the guitar gods of all time is a magnificent multi instrumentalist able to create masterpieces. This album contains well-paced dramatic solos, songs and melodies that slice right through you like a heavenly breeze.

Biography

Born: March 06, 1946 in Cambridge, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

David Gilmour gained international fame for his incisive, atmospheric guitar work and vocals with Pink Floyd, and eventually became the leader of the group during their late period as well as pursuing a successful solo career and working with some of the most respected names in British rock. Gilmour was born in Cambridge, England on March 6, 1946; his parents were both involved in education — his father was a lecturer in Zoology at Cambridge University and his mother was a teacher — and...
Full bio
On An Island, David Gilmour
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