As a genuine David Gilmour fan it's embarassing to admit this is the first solo album of his that I have purchased. Hurrying past that introductory comment, let's get into a review of David (Pink Floyd guitarist/vocalist/songwriter) Gilmour's, solo release “Rattle That Lock”.
As I put the CD into my PC I had mixed ideas what to expect - a long ambient introduction, spanning on for minutes a-la Shine On You Crazy Diamond or something creatively new - punchy, aggressive, or bold? As it turns out the opening track '5 A.M.' was the former. It was a safe call, capturing Gilmour's soulful guitar approach, and successfully tying the legacy of Floyd to this album while introducing new listeners to a Gilmour/Floyd sound.
The album's title track, 'Rattle That Lock' then rolled in with a modern sounding, quirky riff. Instantly I began to wonder if this riff was inspired by an actual alarm clock going off a 5 AM. As the song continued I realised that I was in for a new listening experience. This was not just a recreation of earlier Gilmour sounds. Mentioned earlier, this is the first solo album of his that I've heard, so I can only compare it to his work in Pink Floyd. Let's face it. Who can really cast aside a legacy of decades. By that, of course, I mean all the inherent Floyd-isms ubiquitous to Gilmour. Yet, he's wisely handled the task at hand.
Listening through you can contemplate the master sonic architect carefully considering each aspect of what to put on the album. What shall be borrowed from the past? What shall be implemented of where and who I am now? No artist wants to be chained to the past and here is Gilmour brilliantly presenting his own unique musical construct. Here and there are some funky guitar stabs and I think, “Whoah! Is that Gilmour?” Sure he's approached guitar playing like that in the past, but this was something new. A side I'd not heard from.
As the album progresses I realise how whimsical it is. It's the work of a sheer professional who doesn't take himself overly seriously. David could have created an imposing monolith of awesomeness, but, rather, he's created a beautiful aural garden – every flower, every tree, every path carefully planted, laid out, beautiful and natural.
Enter shades of other artists - Bowie, Waitts, and Burne. Most likely unintentional, but in the album Gilmour has constructed it would be impossible not to collide with some of the colours that his contempories have also entertained. It's quite a nice homage - intentional or not.
Listening further realise it's a very claustrophibic album. Floyd is so often lush, open and spacey, but this album seems encapsulated, restrained, even intimate perhaps. It's a confined album with boundaries set that cannot be escaped, forcefully mixed within restraint. It's a contrast to the album artwork showing open fields, thunderous skies and birds flying. I'm sure visual artists are going to love discussing pretty colourful birds upon release from a cage transmogrifying into black crows. Images show David has traded his signature red Stratocaster guitar for a black one. He's dressed in black. Almost as if Gilmour is cooly asserting himself in the modern rock pantheon, an old lion who still strides bodly amoung the pride of younger cubs confidently refusing to abate any of his territory.
Interestingly enough, album artwork features Gilmour and companion standing at train stations. Symbolically, trains entice thoughts of departure. A romantic, perhaps sadenning departure. A separation. Certainly David his separated his present from his past. 'Faces of Stone' invokes a grizzled small bar player cynically pouring out relationship woes (one of only two songs that Gilmour wrote the lyrics for). 'Dancing Right in Front of Me' could have come straight from Pink Floyd's album 'The Wall' full of ominous guitar work and moody vocals. 'Today' is soulful and driving. 'And Then..." then last album track, well, and then we're back to where the album began. David's cutting and passionate guitar playing.
All said, it's a wonderful album that makes one feel that Gilmour was not bound by many constraints (Have a Cigar, anyone?) and said, “this is the album I want to make at this particular time.” I recommend that listeners read through the production notes in the album pages. There's some great names featuring on this album. And, on a different note, I believe the tracks are holding up well in Gilmour's live performances also.
It's unlikely any Floyd/Gilmour fan will be disappointed in this album. “Rattle That Lock” is a great aural tapestry for any younger music fan who wants a taste of a rock legend throwing another gauntlet into the music ring.