Sound — 8
David Gilmour, best known as the lead guitarist for Pink Floyd and one of the greatest living guitarists in the world, has had an impressive career. In addition to his work with Pink Floyd, he has collaborated with many other artists, had a successful solo career, taught himself to pilot and started and sold a successful aviation company, acted as producer and/or sound engineer for dozens of other musical acts, and finally is an extremely diverse multi-instrumentalist. Though David Gilmour is instantly known for his guitar playing - especially his emotive blues soloing, which have been a defining characteristic of Pink Floyd's sound - he also plays keyboard, piano, saxophone, harmonica, banjo and bass guitar (among others). On his fourth studio album, "Rattle That Lock," David does a little bit of everything - he plays a LOT of guitar, of course, but he also plays some keyboards, saxophone, harmonica, bass guitar, and of course provides lead vocals, as well. That lead single from the album was the title track, "Rattle That Lock," which was released over the summer, and included a very creepy music video. The second track released as a single was the track, "Today," which was released earlier this month. There are 10 tracks on the album, with an approximate runtime of 51 minutes.
The album opens up with the instrumental track "5 a.m.," which features David playing guitar, keyboards and piano. This is exactly the type of track you want opening up a Gilmour album - it is essentially a 3 minute guitar solo that showcases exactly why David Gilmour keeps showing up on "best guitarist" lists. The second track, "Rattle That Lock," has a repeating "ba-ba-badaa" vocal hook, and is a very creepy song. Backing vocals on "Rattle That Lock" are provided by The Liberty Choir and Mica Paris. "Faces of Stone" has a piano intro, and acoustic guitar comes in at about the 1 minute mark, and has a strong gypsy folk type of vibe to it, with accordion included on the track, as well. Honestly, that song has a pretty creepy vibe to it, too. "A Boat Lies Waiting" has David Crosby and Graham Nash supplying harmonizing vocals with David on this track - otherwise, the track is fairly sparse, with some guitar, with a little bass, a little piano, and some minimal percussion. "Dancing Right in Front of Me" is another track that shows the creepy side of this album again - and oddly enough a few brief moments of Gilmour's playing reminds me a lot of Mark Knopfler. The lyrical theme of this song is extremely melancholy, dealing with life changing and time passing. "In Any Tongue" is another sad one, with some very powerful moments on piano and guitar.
"Beauty" is another instrumental track, with some really nice guitar (and bass) work on it - the bass line is a simple and mostly repeating figure, but it helps add another dimension on the track. David's guitar work lives up to the track's title. "The Girl in the Yellow Dress" opens with a stand-up bass riff on double bass, and has David just providing vocals on this track (though I wonder if he's playing the saxophone) - pretty much all the instrumentation is covered by other musicians - even the guitar is covered by Rado Klose, who was a guitarist in an early incarnation of Pink Floyd. "Today" was the second single from the album, and was released earlier in September. "Today" has a really oddball vibe going on, with some interesting percussion and a standout bass line (played by Guy Pratt). The track definitely has some infectious energy going on with it. The album closes out with the track, "And Then...," which is the third and final instrumental track on the album. It is essentially instrumental melancholy played out, even with a section for acoustic guitar near the end, and the outro of the song being the sound of a fire burning. Phenomenal album.
Lyrics — 8
David Gilmour's never really been known for his vocals, but honestly you have to consider he's coming up on 70 and his vocals sound strong. He's actually pretty damn skilled - especially displayed on "The Girl in the Yellow Dress," with his vocal melodies mimicking his sense of phrasing on guitar to some degree. Vocals were performed almost exclusively by David, though he did have some guests such as David Crosby, Graham Nash, Mica Paris, Louise Marshall, Steve DiStanislao and The Liberty Choir. The lyrics are deep, and mainly dealing with the idea of mortality, and time moving forward. Word around the block is that while David wrote some of the lyrics, his wife wrote a large portion of the lyrics on the album, as well. Some of my favorite lyrics from the album are on the track, "Rattle That Lock," which has a really strong underlying sense of rebellion against mortality in the lyrics and video - here are some lyrics from the track: "And all the other travelers/ Become phantoms to our eyes/ Furies and the revelers/ Fallen angels in disguise/ No discord, chance or rumor/ Is going to interrupt this place/ No discord, chance or rumor/ To interrupt this/ So let's get to it/ It's calling like a flame/ Through the darkness and the night/ The world suspended on a golden chain/ Rattle that lock." My rating is based largely on the lyrics, but also on the fact that this is the vocal performance of a 70 year old man.
Overall Impression — 8
It is interesting listening to an album where when you try to decide which track has your favorite guitar solo it just kind of leaves you at a loss because you can't really narrow it down. I think that a lot of this album doesn't necessarily sound like what people may expect from David Gilmour, as it is a little different from his previous solo releases, and a lot different in parts from his work with Pink Floyd. I still think this is one of the better albums I've heard this year - almost for the melodies alone. If I had to pick a favorite track, I would immediately say the three instrumental tracks are all near the top, with "And Then..." possibly being my favorite instrumental track. I also enjoyed the title track quite a bit, especially in conjunction with the video. "Today" is interesting as it has a feel that is really individual compared to the rest of the album. Okay, we can try to name my least favorite tracks from the album... "A Boat Lies Waiting" is one of the less engaging tracks on the album, and "The Girl in the Yellow Dress" is fun, but with David only focused on vocals on that one, I miss his playing. Really, the album is exceptional for what it is, and I have zero legitimate complaints.