March 23, 2005

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David Gilmour, On An Island
Columbia Records, 2006

David Gilmour celebrates his 60th birthday by releasing his third solo album (the first two have been out of print but reportedly will be re-released soon) and touring the US and Europe.

On An Island invites the same reaction listeners might have to 1984’s About Face: the lyrics and drumbeats, eh, whatever, but we love it when Gilmour sticks to what he does best, which is play guitar and make moody atmospheric sounds. Thankfully this album is mostly that. Of all his solo albums, this is the most languid and dreamy; it fits its title perfectly, complete with seagull sound effects in more than one track, and if you put it on repeat (it’s 51 minutes long) you won’t notice the point at which it ends and starts over. Which was perhaps intended; the last track is called “Where We Start.”

The mood occasionally turns dark but always opens into something airier – you get the sense of emerging from a seaside cave onto a brightly moonlit shore, much like the image on the album cover. If there’s a single theme to the lyrics it seems to be self-reliance.

With its graceful instrumentals, gradual fade-outs and echoes of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon (the languorous parts) and some tads of Meddle (but it’s not quite that spacey, and, again, this one features seagulls, but not dogs), On An Island carves out more of that unique ground where Gilmour can play out his virtuosity, both technical and emotional, without either grinding up in your face or falling into lifeless pap.

Here is enjoyable proof that mellow does not have to mean acoustic or sleepy. A

Lisa Parsons


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