David Gilmour's 2006 solo album, and first one since his 1984's experimental About Face, sees the Pink Floyd frontman return to the style of his 1978 debut, which is more in keeping with the classic Pink Floyd sound. Gilmour's trademark slow-tempo delivery is thankfully intact and his voice is in fine form throughout. The songs are largely excellent, particularly the title track and the intoxicating "Take A Breath".
From the first moments of the sound collage that begins On An Island, you know it's a special experience that not only bears comparison with the best of Pink Floyd, but also confirms their lead guitarist and singer as an outstanding solo artist. Here he reveals a personal vision and a breadth of styles folk, jazz, orchestral and rock brought together as a unified piece through his lyrical guitar playing and instantly recognizable voice.
With orchestrations by the renowned Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner and a luminous production (assisted by Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera), virtuosity abounds. On An Island Guest artists include David Crosby and Graham Nash singing harmonies, Robert Wyatt playing the cornet, Caroline Dale on cello, Alasdair Molloy on glass harmonica and Pink Floyd's Richard Wright guesting on Hammond organ.
Gilmour shares writing credits with writer Polly Samson, continuing a collaborative partnership that began with The Division Bell. The album's songs tell of shared experiences that evoke a breadth of moods, from the hauntingly beautiful title track 'On An Island' (with a guitar performance set to enter the Gilmour canon of classics) to the meditative 'The Blue' and 'A Pocketful of Stones,' as well as the heavier rock and blues numbers 'Take A Breath' and 'This Heaven.' In the spirit of intimacy, this album sees Gilmour's debut on the saxophone, as well as contributions by contemporaries from his pre-Floyd days.
On An Island is a collection of songs and instrumentals that had its genus in the critically acclaimed 2002 London Festival Hall concerts. Gilmour has stepped out of his super-group to discover he's still at his peak - and he's rightly pleased. "It's my best and most personal work," he says. "Making it with my musician friends has been a positive experience on so many levels."
Additional performers on the album include David Crosby, Graham Nash, Richard Wright, Robert Wyatt, Phil Manzanera, Jools Holland, Georgie Fame, Caroline Dale, Guy Pratt, Willie Wilson, and, from Pink Floyd's earliest incarnation, Rado 'Bob' Klose.
• Vinyl LP
• Gatefold jacket
2. On An Island
3. The Blue
4. Take A Breath
5. Red Sky At Night
1. This Heaven
2. Then I Close My Eyes
4. A Pocketful Of Stones
5. Where We Start