This year is certainly one that has seen the revival of a number of artists. After the closing Pink Floyd release, Endless River, and Roger Waters’ reissue of Amused To Death, guitarist and solo artist David Gilmour has now returned after nine years with his latest solo studio album Rattle That Lock. As one of the major architects of Pink Floyd, the comparison is inescapable and this latest record bears all the hallmarks of Gilmour’s distinctive writing and style.
The album has a day in the life feel to it, fittingly opening with the instrumental 5am. Building atmosphere as only Gilmour can, with the same bright guitar tone that is inextricably reminiscent of tracks like Wish You Were Here. Backed by acoustic guitar and played with the same clipped, steely tone but with some jazzier moments. Getting the obvious out of the way right at the start; yes Gilmour will always bear a resemblance to Pink Floyd. But that’s because Gilmour was Pink Floyd, as much as Syd Barrett or Roger Waters.
Title track Rattle That Lock is leaps out as an immediately great track. Surprisingly inspired by the announcement jingle at French train stations, instantly recognisable as such once you hear it, the pace and melody has a bluesy feel to it. And that same jingle also has something of Edwyn Collins’ A Girl Like You about it, particularly alongside the groove, the organ part and guitar solo. The lyrics however, written by Gilmour’s wife and long time lyricist Polly Samson, evoke a different tone. Contributing five songs, her lyrics are very much the verbal expression of Gilmour’s music and were loosely inspired by John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. Later track In Any Tongue feels like the slower sequel to Rattle That Lock. Featuring Gilmour’s son Gabriel on piano, it’s a more thoughtfully paced song but echoing melodies and following on lyrically. Also providing the perfect moment for one of Gilmour’s trademark guitar solos; a thing of beauty soaring with sustain, climbing through octaves.
Featuring a tribute to the late Rick Wright, former Pink Floyd keyboardist who passed away in 2008, A Boat Lies Waiting is naturally a quieter moment on the record. Inspired by the rolling feel of the music, and Wright’s love of sailing, the title also suggests a passing on. It is an understated track, which feels fitting, but builds into a stunning soundscape. With subtle foley effects of boats creaking and mumbled dialogue. Guest vocals from David Crosby and Graham Nash create the instantly recognisable harmony and chorus. Followed by the slightly looming Dancing Right In Front Of Me, there is a cabaret feel to the syncopated rhythms and heavier melodies. And an almost freeform style to the instrumental interplay and jazz style percussion.
Ending with instrumental And Then… the final word is the same sustained guitar work, cosmic and evocative we’re back to Gilmour as we know him best. Considering this album to be some of his best work, whether Gilmour is right about that will most likely be hotly debated. But Rattle That Lock is certainly a brilliant, virtuoso piece of work, and one that will definitely lend itself to live performances.