On March 6, 2006, David Gilmour released his third studio album, "On an Island".
In honor of this special occasion, David Gilmour decided to synchronize the release of the album with his 60th birthday!!! and give himself (and us) the ultimate birthday present.
The album was recorded mostly from 2001 to 2005 in Gilmour's private studio at the famous "Astoria" boat house. It features collaborations with a wide variety of artists, such as: Robert Wyatt, Jools Holland, Georgie Fame, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Rick Wright, and more. For the producer's position, Gilmour recruited his friend Phil Manzanera, known from his membership in "Roxy Music", who also plays guitar in several tracks, and also Chris Thomas who worked with all the familiar names in England, from "The Beatles" to the "Sex Pistols" and most importantly with "Pink Floyd", especially on the album "The Dark Side Of The Moon". The creative process of the album was documented, in part, in a short documentary.
Gilmour, who composed all ten tracks on the album, chose to walk in known and familiar paths instead of experimenting with new and unmarked trails. Listening to this album will surely cause you involuntary flashbacks from "Pink Floyd's" albums, from "Meddle" to "The Division Bell", but hey, who cares, just give us more and more of this sheer pleasure. We are addicted to the all-too-familiar sound of the "Strat", to the precise bending technique, to the razor-sharp slide, and to the velvety vocals, even if it has become a little hoarse and worn over the years.
From the instrumental opening track "Castellorizon" written inspired by a visit to the Greek island of Kastellorizo to "Where We Start" which ends the album, Gilmour takes us on a delicate and magical journey that manages to touch us in just the right places. Every string pull, every touch on the frets, knocks on our dormant brain cells and releases memories of musical moments, of happiness that have existed there for decades. Just like the cooking smells and taste of mom's food, listening to this album causes us a Deja Vu that takes us back in time to beloved and good days.
Gilmour in all his genius managed to produce an album with a nostalgic "retro" atmosphere, without sounding outdated, not even for a single moment.
"Castellorizon" includes references to the musical sections that we will meet later in the album and is a kind of intro to the entire musical piece, that also connects us to the "Waltz" theme song "On an Island", which features David Crosby and Graham Nash in background vocals. "Remember That Night ... White steps in the moonlight" Gilmour sings and ignites the nostalgic emotion that will accompany us throughout the album. This line corresponds beautifully with the album cover, which together with the vocal harmonies of Gilmour-Crosby-Nash, manage to wrap our hearts. And the solos ... solos that for some reason at certain moments threw us into the amazing "Amimals" days, especially the first one. "The Blue" is as its name implies, a quiet and melancholic track that includes a vocal collaboration with Rick Wright and a soulful bluesy solo. Gilmour hardens the sound a bit with the somewhat dirty riff of "Take a Breath", which was also released as the second single from the album. The song also features a long and amazing solo and an instrumental section at its center. "Red Sky at Night" is a short instrumental piece led by David Gilmour's saxophone playing. "This Heaven" is one of the interesting tracks on the album. Slow blues, driven by an acoustic and dominant guitar riff, with the Hammond organ by jazz artist Georgie Fame, which pads the song to his beautiful playing. "Then I Close My Eyes" is the third instrumental track on the album, in which Gilmour collaborates with Robert Wyatt, who contributes trumpet and percussion as well as background vocals. "Smile" is without a doubt one of the most beautiful pieces on the album, which contrasts to the melancholy atmosphere it conveys, always manages to put a "smile" on our faces. How beautiful is the combination of Gilmour's voice and Slide, which reminds us of the collaboration between David Gilmour and the Border Collie dog "Seamus" from the album "Meddle". "A Pocketful of Stones" is slanted with orchestral accompaniment and forces Gilmour to put the guitar aside for a moment, in favor of the Piano and Hammond organ. The closing track "Where We Start" is so moving with Gilmour's little guitar sentences, that accompany and enrich his vocals. "Where did we start"? Gilmour asks and we're back to "Castellorizon" again, with a simple magical album that can be listened to repeatedly....
It is interesting to note that whoever purchased the album in the deluxe version received a bonus DVD called: "David Gilmour Live And In Session" and included recordings of Gilmour and his backing band in various studios:
As we already mentioned, Gilmour does not take any risk with "On an Island". He does not pull rabbits out of the hat and he certainly does not take us to any "musical island". But that's exactly the idea. Having produced so many masterpieces over 40 years of music, Gilmour may continue to do exactly the same thing, without giving us the right to point even a single arrow of criticism at him.