David Gilmour – Rattle That Lock

David Gilmour - Rattle That LockDisclaimer: I came dangerously close to dismissing Rattle that Lock as an overwrought, pompous, meandering mess. I had seven hundred words written on how I vehemently disliked David Gilmour’s new, and fourth, solo effort. Then I gave it one last spin, just to be sure. And I’m glad I did.

Rattle that Lock is a difficult album to really get in to. Doubly so if you’re a Pink Floyd fan. Triply so, perhaps, when your least favourite Floyd albums are the latter-day ones, where guitarist David Gilmour and lyricist Polly Samson are at the helm. It’s an album you put on because you are expecting stellar guitar work, moody vocals and a crystal clear production. Rattle that Lock does not really feature much of that. It’s too quiet, to introspective and too melancholic for that. It sounds, at first, like an album made by an old man starting, like Abe Simpson, to tell a story, only to lose track of what he was saying exactly halfway through the telling. It takes a very long time for the pieces of the puzzle to fall into their respective places and finally gell into one cohesive whole.

Another disclaimer perhaps: I still very much despise the lounge-y jazz sounds of The Girl in the Yellow Dress. It sounds like an American private eye is just about to mutter some hard-boiled monologue, whilst the rain pours down, hitting the streets in a scene straight out of a film noir. But that’s me; it’s not a musical style I particularly enjoy. But it’s one of the problems Rattle that Lock has. The songs, at least at first, sound disjointed. It lacks cohesion, and sounds like a hastily cobbled-together collection of songs and excerpts from late-night jam sessions in a smoky club down town. Once you start looking past the initial problems, the good songs start to stand out, and they outweigh the bad ones.

First off, we are treated to three instrumental tracks. These sound like B-sides from The Endless River, that album in itself essentially a collection of B-sides. They feature bits of that signature Gilmour guitar sound, and can easily be counted amongst the true highlights of the album. The title track is also pretty good; a solid, competent rocker, and one of the most upbeat songs Gilmour has released in ages. The first real highlight arrives in the form of Faces of Stone, a melancholy song reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s moodier material. It’s sombre and solemn, but it’s a beautiful song, driven by heavy piano chords, an accompanying accordion and subtle orchestration. A Boat Lies Waiting is a tribute to Floyd’s late keyboard player Richard Wright, and features a couple of voice samples from him. It’s a poignant and introvert song, and a fitting way of saying goodbye one last time.

After that, the pace picks up again with Dancing Right in Front of Me, which is an ominous rocker with a hint of jazz, reminding a bit of A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Same goes for In Any Tongue. The album arrives at its second instrumental bit with Beauty, which is as quiet, contemplative and cerebral as anything on The Endless River, before Rattle That Lock takes a nose dive with The Girl in the Yellow Dress. Those awful, lounge-y five minute (and a bit) are bad enough to almost ruin the entire album. It’s probably not even a bad song, and it probably does what it’s doing pretty well, but it’s so out of place, it sticks out like a sore thumb. A deep end Today never seems to be able to crawl out of, with its springy melodies and cheerful melodies. And album simmers out on the last instrumental, And Then…

Rattle That Lock is by no means a bad album, but it’s far from a masterpiece as well. It’s an incredibly well produced, lush sounding album featuring a legendary guitarist and vocalist, and offers enough to make any Floyd, or classic rock fan, happy. Or moderately, at least, because Gilmour’s fourth really dies out like a candle on those last few songs. It’s a shame, because some careful editing would have made for a far better album. Then again, it’s as close as a new Floyd album we’re going to get, so we might as well count our blessings.

Record label: Columbia
Release date: out now

Track listing:

  1. 5 A.M. (3:04)
  2. Rattle That Lock (4:55)
  3. Faces of Stone (5:32)
  4. A Boat Lies Waiting (4:34)
  5. Dancing Right in Front of Me (6:11)
  6. In Any Tongue (6:46)
  7. Beauty (4:28)
  8. The Girl in the Yellow Dress (5:25)
  9. Today (5:55)
  10. And Then… (4:27)

Line-up:

  • David Gilmour – lead vocals, guitars, keyboards, piano, Hammond organ, bass guitar, bass harmonica, electric piano
  • Jon Carin – electric piano
  • David Crosby – backing vocals
  • Danny Cummings – percussion
  • Steve DiStanislao – drums, percussion, backing vocals
  • Roger Eno – piano
  • Martin France – drums
  • Gabriel Gilmour – piano
  • Jools Holland – piano
  • Damon Iddins – accordion, calliope keyboard
  • Rado Klose – guitar
  • Chris Laurence – double bass
  • The Liberty Choir – backing vocals
  • Phil Manzanera – Hammond organ, keyboard elements, acoustic guitar
  • Louise Marshall – backing vocals
  • Graham Nash – backing vocals
  • Andy Newmark – drums
  • Eira Owen – French horn
  • John Parricelli – guitar
  • Mica Paris – backing vocals
  • Guy Pratt – bass guitar
  • Zbigniew Preisner – orchestration
  • Mike Rowe – electric piano
  • Polly Samson – backing vocals
  • Yaron Stavi – bass guitar, double bass, backing vocals
  • Colin Stetson – saxophone
  • Richard Wright – voice sample
  • Robert Wyatt – cornet

Links:

Review by Ralph Plug

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