Rattle That Lock
David Gilmour's first studio release since 2006's On An Island, Rattle That Lock contains 10 tracks composed by the guitarist — five with lyrics by writer (and wife) Polly Samson, two by just Gilmour, and three instrumentals. It was produced by Gilmour with longtime friend and right-hand man Phil Manzanera, whom, you may recall, cut his teeth as the guitarist for Roxy Music. To complete the picture, so to speak, the dramatic cover art depicting vultures or crows or some sort of ominous-looking blackbirds emerging from a cage in a field under dark thunderclouds was created by Hipgnosis.
Indeed, the artwork and Gilmour's glistening guitar and vocals are hallmarks of Pink Floyd without the trappings and expectations of being Pink Floyd. After delivering to that standard with 2014's The Endless River, Gilmour must have felt the pull to take it even further under his own name. A living, breathing orchestra fades in to gently open Rattle That Lock before Gilmour's light touch suavely walks through the floodgates. The funky title track allows the guitarist to redefine the boundaries by simplifying the beats, stacking up backup vocals, and inserting a sparse, deep-throated Hammond on the turnarounds. There's a Rattle Youth Mix - 12' Extended Radio Dub and a Radio Edit of "Rattle That Lock" on the Deluxe Edition of the album if you really want to get your boogie on.
Very much in the spirit of Pink Floyd's fallen keyboardist Richard Wright, Gilmour handles a good portion of the keyboards on Rattle That Lock. Simple piano lines he plays become threads in the Parisian-flavored "Faces Of Stone" and "A Boat Lies Waiting," on which David Crosby and Graham Nash sweeten the chorus. Gilmour gets whimsical on the bouncy "Dancing Right In Front Of Me," which only jumps into action with a winding, strong-arm chord sequence at the break, followed by a jazzy piano solo from Gilmour.
"In Any Tongue" is framed around more piano that blossoms under the intensity of an orchestral backing, Gilmour's impassioned vocal and the stinging lead at the end. A very Floydian instrumental called "Beauty" features Roger Eno (brother of Brian) on piano, while Gilmour covers the other keys, as well as guitar, along with drummer Steve DiStanslao (who plays on most of the album) and percussionist Danny Cummings. The light and easy flow of "The Girl In The Yellow Dress" features some glowing lyrics from Samson that Gilmour intones with style and confidence. Definitely one for the lovers in the crowd.
As the record winds down, the mood shifts from light and fluffy to solemn and salacious as "Today," the album's snappiest melody, gets kicked in the shorts by a thumping riff to the yarbles and Gilmour's vocals drenched in space-age reverb. Both Jon Carin and Mike Rowe add to the weight of electric pianos, while Gilmour chugs out a barking lead to take it out. Just as its title implies, "And Then" shines a light on Gilmour's beatific strokes on the guitar, suspended over a bed of strings, to wrap things up nice and neat. There are no promises with Rattle That Lock, no expectations for the discerning critics or Floyd freaks. In its own organic and tender crafting, it portends accessibility for those amicable souls still listening to "Wish You Were Here" on a pair of dusty old headphones. It also rises to the challenge of revealing David Gilmour's own true identity, apart from the famous band he'll forever be tied to.
~ Shawn Perry