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 On An Island

Title: On An Island
Artist: David Gilmour
Year: 2006
Tracks: 10

When an ageing classic rock star who hasn't made a record for twelve years decides to create a new album, you know it's going to be trouble. His voice will be shot. His fingers will be too stubby to play his out-of-tune guitar properly. He'll have forgotten how to write a song, and his wrinkled visage adorning the cover will hardly inspire anyone bar his most dedicated fans to purchase his record.

If that's the way your mind works, you would probably choose to avoid David Gilmour's new album. Which would be a shame, because the former Pink Floyd frontman has proven to the masses that he still knows how to rock. On An Island is a beautifully crafted work that not only eclipses Gilmour's previous solo efforts in terms of quality, but stands on a par with Pink Floyd's best work.

And indeed, a few of the tracks are very reminiscent of the legendary group. The title track in particular stands out as being particularly Floydian, with guitar work similar to that on the Animals album, and Richard Wright guesting on Hammond organ. Even at sixty years old, Gilmour's voice is as good as it ever was, and his trademark guitar solos are packed with more passion and feeling than ever before. The album's third track, The Blue , plays host to an incredible guitar solo that almosts tops Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb.

But this isn't a Pink Floyd record. Gilmour dabbles in a variety of styles for this new album, with jazz, blues and folk influences seeping into the music. It moves seamlessly from out-and-out rockers ( Take A Breath) to slow, bluesy instrumentals such as Red Sky At Night (featuring David's debut on saxophone) to the foot-tappingly catchy This Heaven without ever failing to captivate the listener. Making the album particularly special are Gilmour's collaborations with other musicians, including Phil Manzanera (of Roxy Music, who also co-produced this album), Jools Holland, Georgie Fame and Guy Pratt - each adding their own personal touch to the record. But the most notable contribution has to be that of Polly Samson, Gilmour's wife - who has returned to write the lyrics for this album after working on the last Pink Floyd record, The Division Bell. Although The Division Bell was criticised for lacking the bite of Floyd lyricist Roger Waters, the mood of this album complements her words perfectly. Samson's lyrics clearly do reflect the emotions demonstrated in Gilmour's music, and it's through the combination of the two that we are given insight into the man's feelings. On An Island is a very intimate, very personal work that captures a man content with his life - he tells us that this earthly heaven is enough for him, and we believe him.

Perhaps the album's greatest triumph, however, is the incredible atmosphere it creates. It sparks your imagination in a way few records can. You visit sun-kissed Mediterranean islands with deep blue oceans, beautiful sunsets and green woodlands, all in less than an hour. It's not only the perfect soundtrack to the summer, but it's the ideal album to lose yourself in after a long day. Mellow, intimate and very chilled, On An Island is essential listening. There are a couple of weak tracks, but they barely detract from what is an immensely relaxing and beautiful album, from a musician still at the top of his game.

Score:

Buy On An Island now at Play.com
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