On An Island review by David Gilmour

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Mar 7, 2006
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (105 votes)
David Gilmour: On An Island

Sound — 9
With almost 30 years having passed since David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd, hearing the an album like On An Island is a proof positive that the rock icon's talent hasn't ebbed in any way. While some artists have obvious wear and tear in their vocals, Gilmour sounds better than ever. The re-released album (originally out in March) is full of soothing compositions that may not appeal to fans of Pink Floyd's edgier work, but the new edition also includes a bonus DVD containing flawless renditions of old and new material.

You'd be hard-pressed to think of a more soothing vocalist than David Gilmour, and the CD portion of Gilmour's 3rd solo effort sort of almost feels like a pleasing lullaby at times. The title track is the perfect example of Gilmour's dreamy blend of rock, which very much draws on the mood of hits like Comfortably Numb. On An Island is one of the best tracks on the CD, primarily because Gilmour has an uncanny way of working in the most heartfelt guitar lines at the right moments. The track also features harmonizing vocals from David Crosby and Graham Nash interestingly enough.

Take A Breath is more akin temp-wise of Floyd's Keep Talking, and it does have a more rock-oriented approach than the majority of the other tracks. It's still a low-key rock song, however, so don't expect Gilmour to get too crazy in the album. The mellowness of On An Island might be a bit too much for some listeners, but songwriting-wise Gilmour has created a nice collection of memorable and moving songs.

It's during the DVD that the music becomes most enthralling. Gilmour is a subdued man during most of his performances, but seeing him up-close -- with passion in his face even when his body might not indicate such feeling -- is a new experience in itself. The DVD covers Gilmour performing in a few different settings: at the Royal Albert Hall, during the Abbey Road Session, as well as at a New York Session. Gilmour does perform a few of his new songs from On An Island, but the most memorable performance comes when he tackles Astronomy Domine, which was originally sung by Pink Floyd guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett. It's an unexpected choice and it's amazing to see it performed along with such contrasting songs. Comfortably Numb is the finale number on the DVD, and as always, never ceases to give chills.

Lyrics — 9
Gilmour's lyrics are introspect and touching, and definitely reflect the music behind them. The guitarist in the past has had sentimental themes included in his songs, and the latest album is pretty much no exception.

Smile is a touching number that details various day-to-day scenes, which although seemingly ordinary, are made more significant as he spends his life with a loved one. Gilmour sings, I light a campfire away from the path; We lie in the bluebells, a woodpecker laughs; Time passes slowly our hearts entwined; All of the dark times left behind. When set to the slow-tempo and Gilmour's hushed vocals, the lyrics become all the more effective.

On An Island follows a similar reflective theme, recalling the memories of a past relationship. Gilmour sings, Remember that night; White sails in the moonlight
They walked it too; Through empty playground, this ghost's town. The sentimentality should not be anything too new for fans, and Gilmour does a fine job at combining intriguing imagery with emotional content.

Overall Impression — 9
Gilmour's work as both a guitarist and vocalist are incredibly unique, which is a big reason why Pink Floyd became such a phenomenon. While his solo work definitely leaves out the edgier moments that were ever-present in Hey You or Run, he still has a lot to offer. Watching the DVD will give the best indication of this, particularly when he is dead-on his playing of the acoustic, steel guitar, and his electrics. On top of that his vocals are amazingly clear and it's unlikely he ever needs more than a few takes in the studio.

On An Island is an extremely laid-back CD/DVD, and it may be a little too mellow for even some of his longtime fans. But behind the slow tempos and lulling harmonies are solid arrangements that are beautifully constructed. At 60 years old Gilmour has again proved that he can still churn out a CD full of unique and moving melodies.

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I think this album as a whole is fantastic, and I liked it better than his other three solo albums (including Rattle That Lock). As for the comparisons to Roger's solo albums, the two men have very different musical styles. Waters is very up in your face, he definitely has a point he is trying to get across, and Gilmour is rather laid back, making music for the love and fun of making music. When you combine those two, you get Floyd albums like Meddle and Dark Side, which are both fantastic. I'd say comparisons between Waters and Gilmour are pointless as they are both so different, and neither of them are as good solo as when they collaborated in Floyd with Wright and Mason and each other.
    I am so excited for this album an am hoping to recieve it for Christmas. It is very mellow and dark with great guitar and songwriting. I am a huge Pink floyd fan and this seems like all the guys got back together with Dave singing. Someone said before that they should retire, but I think they should keep making music because that is what they ove doing. Great CD. (RIP Syd we miss you )
    Wow a lot of you people are nuts, those who say this album is too laid back or boring, are *****s!!! not everything has to be loud meaningless sounds, gilmour is a master, a gifted guitar player and knows about art and music, thats the way you play the guitar, not that ****ing nu-rock garbage, dont listen to any bad reviews, go get this album, its just an amazing work of art, Roger waters could only dream with an album like this, can roger put out an album like this by himself??? doubt it!
    david gilmour is one of the most inspiring guitarists of the psychedelic rock age, or any age for that matter, his hard hitting, heart touching progressions inspire both a sense of sadness and oddly enough, hope into the minds of his listeners with his new album "on an island" not to mention he puts on a kick ass show, rock on dave.
    After hearing some tracks from On an Island on the radio a few times, I went ahead and got it. I wasn't disapointed with it, but you can't really compare it to DSotM. I'm always a bit sad to see a big falling-out between former friends, whether Lennon/McCartney or Rogers/Gilmour or...the list goes on. It's just an unfortunate thing that does happen in life, sometimes. There was a "synergy". The whole was more than the total sum of the members. Same went for Zep.
    This album is just amazing. DG has always been my favorite guitarist. I think his work was better than Rogers. Love when he took control of the band from Momentary Lapse of Reason, and on! This album just blows my mind 10/10!
    You all are Ok when you are sleeping or stranded on an island. Gilmour blows goats. Snore! Cough,Cough,RIP OFF!