2015 (Sony Music)
On the cover of “Rattle That Lock”, the fourth solo album by David ‘the awe-inspiring’ Gilmour, you can see that the letters ‘o’ and ‘c’ are subtly connected by a dash. Cool detail and it actually means something. Connection is in fact the keyword on this album. The former Pink Floyd guitarist allows the style to fluctuate significantly throughout the ten tracks without compromising the overall coherence in the slightest. Prog rock, pop, cabaret, film music and jazz all deliciously interchange while subtlety and melancholy form the overarching factors that make it a complete whole. Gilmour’s warm voice and his grand guitar playing simply need to exist to leave an impression. It’s truly heartwarming and incredibly genuine.
Let’s go over the details. Three out of the album’s ten tracks are instrumental including the opener 5 A.M. and the closer And Then…. Polly Samson, David Gilmour’s partner, provided lyrics for five songs while Gilmour himself wrote two. The lyrics create a beautiful atmosphere that appropriately frames the compositions. “Rattle That Lock” is about someone’s thoughts throughout the day.
5 A.M. perfectly embodies the awakening as the silence is overtaken by the orchestra and the maestro’s magnificent guitar playing while the song relentlessly progresses. The subsequent title track is a catchy affair with prominent playing from Guy Pratt, Pink Floyd’s bassist since the late ’80s. The backing vocals by Mica Paris and Louise Marshall as well as the gospel choir by The Liberty Choir contribute excellently to the song along with Gilmour’s own contributions. However, this track somewhat falls short compared to the rest of the material.
With the beautiful songs Faces Of Stone and A Boat Lies Waiting the arbiter immediately makes his presence felt. The atmospheric Faces Of Stone has a mysterious intro followed by a graceful section that wouldn’t be out of place on Camel’s album “Harbour Of Tears”. Notably there’s a great similarity in vocal tone between Gilmour and Andy Latimer but regardless. Dominant is an accordion that gives the song a cabaret-like vibe. With a little imagination you can almost see Youp van ‘t Hek stepping out from the wings, but then Gilmour appears, relentlessly pushing you into reality with his passionate playing.
With A Boat Lies Waiting, Gilmour delivers the most melancholic song on the album. The timing displayed by Roger Eno on the piano is genius. It serves as the perfect warm-up for the upcoming vocal segment. What a warm feeling gushes out of the speakers at that moment? The beautifully written lyrics by Samson about the loss of Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright who passed away in 2008, are performed in three-part harmony by David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Gilmour himself. Utterly beautiful.
In Dancing Right In Front Of Me, Gilmour delves into easy jazz blues, which isn’t surprising given the bluesy sound he’s been playing for years. In this song, Gilmour handles much of the instrumentation himself including a jazzy piano solo. A few times a heavy theme emerges in the song adding to its dynamics. The guitar work is also impressive making for a splendid conclusion to the album’s A-side.
The B-side is possibly even stronger. In Any Tongue is a Mecca for Pink Floyd fans. At first it sounds like the beginning of Comfortably Numb but as the song progresses, you are completely submerged in the “Division Bell” sea. With The Girl In The Yellow Dress, Gilmour ventures back into the realm of jazz resulting in a languid track with captivating brass sections of saxophone and cornet, accompanied by the sparkling piano playing of Jools Holland. The penultimate track Today is actually too good to be considered a pop song. However, it clearly falls into that category but at a Peter Gabriel-like level. The phenomenal bass playing by Guy Pratt alone elevates this song far above the masses. The album concludes with And Then…, a slightly fuller variation of the opening track. The circle is complete.
“Rattle That Lock” is a high-quality product filled with excellent compositions and fantastic performances. The atmosphere of the entire work is superb and always engaging. While it may not be 100% prog it is undeniably Gilmourian excellence.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022