On An Island
David Gilmour owes a small debt of gratitude to Roger Waters. For if ole’ Rog hadn’t called and nudged ole’ Dave from his self-imposed, slumberous domesticalities to participate in the Pink Floyd reunion at Live 8, On An Island, Gilmour’s third solo album, might never had seen the light of day. The guitarist had barely stepped into a recording studio since The Division Bell, Floyd’s last (and probably final) studio effort from 1994, so it was questionable as to whether or not he’d ever make another record. Fortunately, without blasting off into the stratosphere, an older and more resolute Gilmour has crafted a lovely collection of songs that oscillate from barren, stark beauty to phantasmagorical grandeur. If this is indeed his last hurrah, the de facto leader, voice and guitar of Pink Floyd is going out on a high note.
Things start off eerily enough with the spacey “Castellorizon,” a short instrumental collage uplifted by a distinctive, splendiferous guitar tone that comfortably and numbly segues into the title track. Gilmour effortlessly meanders through each cadence, warmly intoning a state of conjugal bliss few mortals will ever experience. Another dab of his brush bleeds over the textured palette of “The Blue” before ragged, crunchy chords unfold and twist around the Floyd-like rumble of “Take A Breath.” For the remainder of the record, Gilmour plays it close to the bone, never overextending himself, intuitively peeling off electric and acoustic blues licks of various shades and hues during “This Heaven,” “Then I Close My Eyes” and “Smile.” The lyrics, written by wife Polly Samson, lack the visceral snarl of Animals or The Wall. Instead, they effectively capture the singer’s benign disposition without convoluting the message.
Drawing from a bullpen that includes David Crosby, Graham Nash and Robert Wyatt, Gilmour delivers a tasteful and elegant record that leaps and abounds in its effervescence and immediacy. But even with Rick Wright on board, a select number of hardcore Floydians will undoubtedly cry fowl at the absence of a full-fledged reunion album. Sorry mate – for the moment, all bets are off. Still, On An Island fills the void somewhat, imbuing a pleasant and personal effervesce that should be coveted for years to come — right along with all the other classic recordings David Gilmour has been a part of.
~ Shawn Perry