David Gilmour. Treasured vocalist and guitar player. Member of one of the most revered rock bands in history, Pink Floyd. What is there to say about this man? Better yet, what is there to say about this legend? He gave us mellow-psychedelic rock, smooth acoustic textures paired with sound effects. Gilmour now 69 wowed us with the heart wrenching guitar solo in “Comfortably Numb,” struck popularity with the compositions that fill The Dark Side of The Moon, played miraculously for Animals and showcased his lyrical bones with The Division Bell. Now, he is back on the scene with his newest album Rattle That Lock.
After last years The Endless River, it’s obvious that the Pink Floyd days are over. Listeners will never again see Roger Waters and David Gilmour’s names together on the credit sleeve in an album. The band started to crack after Dark Side and the albums that followed such as Wish You Were Here and Animals are evident to the creative and personal frustration that each member of the band was feeling. Except for the devotion of fans, such as myself, Pink Floyd is no longer the Gilmour/Rogers unit that it once was. The creative entity of Pink Floyd has ceased- but the individual artists live on. Is Gilmour trying to reassure us that he is still there? That even though Pink Floyd is no longer as strong as the bricks that built The Wall or as the souls that gave us Obscured By Clouds or Saucerful of Secrets– member David Gilmour is still capable of making music. Maybe he is trying to breathe more life into the legacy he has built. It could perhaps be a simple artistic need. The fact that Pink Floyd is no longer the band it used to be could be irrelevant- maybe Gilmour just has the need to play. To be artistic until he absolutely cannot be. And to be honest, with solo albums such as David Gilmour released in 1978 and About Face in 1984, Gilmour has an impressive musical career behind him. Just because Pink Floyd is pretty much gone, doesn’t mean David Gilmour left too. He is here, trying to freshen up in 2015 and even though most of his greatest works are behind him, Rattle That Lock still holds a certain mystique that could only come from such a musician.
The album begins with “5 am,” an organic piece that holds the ashes of Gilmour’s past and the innovation of sound effects that Floyd once used so miraculously- this particular sound could take fans back to Dark Side or Meddle even. The tone of this song is calming and is familiar which all in all helps invite any Gilmour fan right into the album. Luckily, he has not gone off on some weird music writing spree- trying to pile a bunch of techniques on top of one another- what you hear is what you get- quiet yet prominent Gilmour style. The albums namesake song is next- “Rattle That Lock” is well… Passionately performed but in composition is rather cliché. Everyone and their brother has heard a song which pertains to the action of breaking free- it is a very popular theme in such works and while it works here- I was hoping for something more original, I mean this is David Gilmour we’re talking about here.
Entering with gentle ivory and black thuds and trickles- “Faces of Stone is” textured appropriately giving the vocals the forefront. Spacey lyrics seem to reminisce of a forgotten time, a memory that stays with the artist. Crystalline guitar and haunting piano notes characterize much of Gilmour’s music I loved this one- until, I admit, at the very end I got the vibe of Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge” ringing in the emphasis on past, future and thoughts and places stained with memories. To compare David Gilmour to Spinal Tap is less of an insult than it is a humorous musical comparison and with that, realize every artist has spacey, ethereal songs that are bound to come with some kind of comedic backlash. At least in my head. What I really enjoyed was the crashing, electric, six-string ending to “Faces of Stone”. That is the sound that sticks, the crystal clear mellow poetic music that is strong but not overly embellished. One thing I can say about the album as a whole is that there is no mistaking the work that was put into it. Yes, there is hints and glimmers of the Pink Floyd sounds- the sound effects, the drawn out chiming guitar, but there is also Gilmour’s striking solo musical personality- although lyrical writing is not his strong suit his perseverance over that fact has been truly demonstrated, in my opinion since the Division Bell. With that, songs such as “Dancing Right In Front Of Me” and “The Girl In A Yellow Dress” sound like a strung out jazz experimentation with a rock n’ roll backbone. Sleepy and hypnotic sounds are interrupted by “In Any Tongue” and “Today” that offers seriousness and distress, chilly but yet a pleasing pickup to the tired songs just played minutes before. It radiates with the feelings of triumph mixed seamlessly with a degree of sorrow.
The misplaced notion that he cannot write lyrics is almost irrelevant here. We can’t expect David Gilmour of today to sound like the David Gilmour of the 1970s. He has aged as his music has, like a fine wine. “Beauty” sounds at first to be more of a bridge than anything. I can appreciate such space-filling dramatic streaks and shines of sound effects, the spacious keys which are tired down by a consistent rhythmic strumming speaks to an intensity that came to surface so many years ago. It’s like he can’t decide between rocking and relaxing. Throughout the whole album- David Gilmour has taken everything that he gave and everything he has absorbed and smashed it into one flexible combination – but who can blame him? Rock music as we know it is branded with his style. He is making a statement in a way, letting us know that he’s still there. Playing, singing, carrying on because it is what he has always done. In hushed repetitiveness “And Then” finishes of the album the way it started. More simplistic with a hint of sadness and a touch of understanding and dare I say, closure. A perfect curtain call for an impressive piece of work. Once again, David Gilmour has stolen the stage and wowed with his melodic abilities- whatever his, age, history or case, he is pushing out the creativity… After all, isn’t that what it is about?