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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

Woah...

People who have heard David Gilmour's guitar playing know that David Gilmour is above the rest of the crowd. He isn't a good guitar player for the same reasons as most. He isn't breakneck fast, he doesn't employ many fancy techniques. He uses his guitar as a paintbrush, and creates a beautiful landscape, his quiet voice and cryptic lyrics only adding to it. This album is Gilmour at his absolute best.

Impressive!

When I bought this album I knew I was taking a risk because some musicians solo careers are, well not to great. But man when I started listening to this album, it was amazing! It has awesome guitar solos, features Crosby, Stills, and Nash and even has some orchestra in it. Its a great album to lay back and relax to, and great to listen to after a long day of work while you're stuck in traffic. If you don't have enough money, buy on an island.

David does it again... Put's me on an island every listen!

I absolutely love this music. It is pleasantly visual music. I could not take this one out of my listening rotation for months after I got it. David plays memorable and melodic solos throughout the entire album. His voice and the harmony vocals with Rick Wright sound like Floyd's Meddle. For me, it puts me in the same mood as "Fat Old Sun" or "Obscured by Clouds". You can hear the musical influence Dave had on Floyd all over this album. There are no strong, unsettling political views here as with most of Roger Water's recent material. Don't get me wrong, I am a big Floyd and RW fan. Roger is amazing as a lyricist with Floyd and as a solo artist. But where Roger tends to “make you think”, this album from David Gilmour tends to put the mind at rest conjuring thoughts of moonlit nights, calming woodland scenes and a bit of melancholy “Shine On” style instrumental work that act as glue to link it all together. In my opinion, it achieves exactly what the title says. It takes you away to an island. Simply beautiful!

Biography

Born: March 6, 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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