Review Summary: David Gilmour's fourth sees him at his most reflective.
David Gilmour has been a busy man as of late, hasn’t he? Last year saw the release of the fifteenth and (going by his own words) final Pink Floyd album, The Endless River
. So with that project laid to rest and all loose ends tied up, the next logical step was to begin working on his long overdue fourth studio album. Once again recruiting his partner in crime Polly Sampson for joint songwriting duties, David set about his follow up to 2006’s reflective and relaxed On An Island
And for a moment, Rattle That Lock
leaves you wondering if you forgot to take The Endless River
out of your player with the subdued instrumental “5 A.M.”. Right away Gilmour’s trademark guitar chops are on display, swooping elegantly through peaks and troughs. It’s a breathtaking sample of his genius that could easily have been more fleshed out, but alas that isn’t the case and after a premature ending we’re greeted with the title track and true opener. “Rattle That Lock” is an unexpectedly upbeat number about breaking free and making the most of the time you have. The SNCF jingle sample really gives it a danceable quality, and the bass courtesy of Guy Pratt only enhances this. To think that David is knocking on the door of 70 and still sounding this good is astounding, not once does it sound as if he’s struggling to reach the more trying notes. Of course we have two trademark solos, the first acting as a short break between the two verses and the second being a thrilling climax to the track.
At times Rattle That Lock
can be highly introspective, as Mr Gilmour ponders his life and all it has brought him. It doesn’t exactly make for upbeat listening (contrary to what the title track would have you believe), but it can be extremely poignant and poetic. “A Boat Lies Waiting” is, at its heart, an earnest tribute to Richard Wright and his passion for sailing, but beneath the surface lays another concept; learning to accept the loss of a friend and moving on. A heartfelt piano accompanies Gilmour’s comforting vocals throughout, creating a sublime experience that pulls at your heartstrings without being manipulative or uncomfortable.
“His great love was the ocean and sailing on a boat, and that inspired her (Polly) to write a song which is pretty much about Rick”
Thankfully complacency has never been an issue for Gilmour as proven by the jazzy “The Girl In The Yellow Dress”, in which he looks back on and admires some of his earliest influences. The image of Gilmour and his friends playing saxophone and upright bass in a smoky, dimly lit bar is immediately conjured and it’s a marvellous deviation from what we’ve seen before in his solo work. Each part seems expertly crafted, from the buoyant piano to the understated bass that holds the piece together. Don’t be surprised if we hear a fully fledged jazz album from Gilmour in the near future, because the man clearly has a talent and a passion for the genre. The amount of time David has spent in France over the years has evidently influenced him, and now it would seem he wants to try his hand at the styles of artists such as Jef Gilson.
If you’re not a fan of laid back albums, Rattle That Lock most likely won’t be your cup of tea. At times the songs feel like they’re aimlessly meandering, which can lead to an occasionally dull and unsatisfying experience. But if you remain patient, you’ll find that there are some real gems contained within Rattle That Lock
. The penultimate track “Today” features an ethereal choir before bursting into a barrage of funk influenced instrumentals and lively vocals. David often likes to experiment but “Today” really does see him leaving his comfort zone, making it one of the true standouts on the album as well as one of the most surprising. You can’t help but grin as David bellows lines such as “what a time to dream, what a day of easy”, especially after the melancholy that preceded it. You could dismiss Rattle That Lock
as a retread of On An Island
, but that would be unfairly selling it short and you would ultimately be missing out on another milestone in Gilmour’s extensive fifty year career. As long as he’s still making fascinating music, we’ll all still be listening.