Nine years after his last solo album “On An Island”, former Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour returns with a new record, featuring an impressive cast of guests including Phil Manzanera, David Crosby & Graham Nash, and even Jools Holland on one song.
Dave Gilmour is such an iconic guitarist that the very first note he plays on the opening instrumental “5 a.m.” is enough to give you goosebumps. It’s the following title track that sets the tone for the rest of the record. What he have is a highly polished singer-songwriter album. It does tend towards the middle of the road in places, through Gilmour’s immediately recognisable lead guitar that lights up every song sets this record apart. While it doesn’t reach the epic grandeur of Pink Floyd’s heyday. it’s as much about the gorgeous orchestrated arrangements as it is about the songs. There are occasional excursions into jazz on “Dancing in Front of Me” and “The Girl in the Yellow Dress”, while both album highlight “In Any Tongue” and the instrumental “Beauty” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a late-period Floyd album. The album ends as it begins, with a guitar instrumental “And Then..”, another reminder of just why he remains one of the greatest guitarists of his generation.
In some ways, it’s a better album than last year’s Pink Floyd coda, “Endless River”, which despite some glorious moments featuring the late Richard Wright, never quite managed to transcend its origins as a collection of outtakes.
Dave Gilmour could be accused to playing safe on this record. But he’s a musician who’s more than earned the right to make whatever music he wants to make; he’s under absolutely no obligations to satisfy expectations of either audiences or critics. So if he chooses to make a record firmly within his comfort zone, that’s his right. And comfort zone or not, he’s still very good at what he does. Anyone expecting something as edgy and abrasive as “Ummagumma” should really be looking elsewhere.