Released on his 60th birthday, David Gilmour finally unveiled his third solo album On An Island on March 6, 2006. It was his first new solo record in 22 years, and hit #1 in the UK (#6 in the US). The record hit platinum status in Canada and was chosen "The Greatest Solo Album by a Former Pink Floyd band member" by classic rock radio station Planet Rock in 2009. Let's take a closer look at this album, which features some surprising guests.
The album starts with the Grammy-nominated (Best Rock Instrumental Performance at 49th and 51st Awards) "Castellorizon," which is an introductory instrumental guitar solo. It segues right into the title track, which was released four weeks prior to the album's release. David Crosby and Graham Nash provide the background vocals. Richard Wright provides background vocals to the airy "The Blue," which makes the song sound similar to Pink Floyd's "Echoes." Co-written with his wife Polly Samson, the unexpected rocker "Take A Breath" is sadly one of the less impressive songs on the record, as the repetitive chanting just gets annoying.
Gilmour picks up the saxophone on "Red Sky At Night," which is an instrumental that's much too short for its own good. Georgie Fame rocks the Hammond organ on the bluesy "This Heaven," which also includes a typical Gilmour guitar solo. Gilmour and Robert Wyatt each play numerous instruments in "Then I Close My Eyes," which is also instrumental, but their voices are still able to sneak their way in.
First performed in 2001, "Smile" can be sickening sweet at times, but thankfully Gilmour's acoustic guitar makes it worthwhile. One of the best ballads here is "A Pocketful of Stones" while "Where We Start" ironically ends the album on a high note, thanks to the hopeful feel and soothing feel.