Now that he’s truly on his own, he relies on wife Polly Samson for most of his lyrics, but he also knows people come to hear his guitar. “5 A.M.” is something of an instrumental overture, just like every album he’s put out since 1987. It sets a classic mood, unfortunately jarred awake by the title track, which bases its hook on a jingle used in the French railway system. (No, really.) It’s a little too funky for this album, but no worse than “Blue Light”. “Faces Of Stone” revives the Dylanesque strum that Roger Waters used all over his solo albums, and that unfortunate calliope that always sounds like a scary carnival came to town. “A Boat Lies Waiting” is something of a tribute to Richard Wright, using what sounds like one of his piano themes, and a snippet of his own voice before the song proper begins. Harmonies by David Crosby and Graham Nash add to the etherealness, if that’s a word. A tempo returns for “Dancing Right In Front Of Me”, not quite jazzy enough to be jazz, and too gloomy to be jaunty. An inspection of the credits reveals the man himself on piano, and a nice job too.
His son plays piano on “In Any Tongue”, another near dirge elevated by every chorus. “Beauty” continues the general tone with an upbeat instrumental featuring his trademark slide guitar, and very different from what comes next. After the hint of jazz in the first half, “The Girl In The Yellow Dress” is the sound of a small combo in a smoky club, with Jools Holland on piano and Robert Wyatt on cornet. A churchy organ and a choir open “Today”, but a groove interrupts and provides a more rocking tune. Finally, “And Then…” brings the album full circle, with a different arrangement of the opening track, ending with the sound of a crackling fire.
As might be expected, Rattle That Lock improves with familiarity, but that also shows what time has done to his voice. It’s not just the high notes he can’t hit; the rasp suggests a melancholy only hinted at on his last solo album. The better moments on the album rise to make it all good, and at 69 years old, we should be so lucky to still have him.
David Gilmour Rattle That Lock (2015)—3