David Gilmour’s musical legacy is secured by his status as vocalist and guitarist of British art-rock band Pink Floyd. He has also enjoyed a sporadic but worthwhile solo career, with four albums including 2015’s “Rattle That Lock” – his first solo album since 2006’s “On An Island.”
Gilmour performs at the United Center and Auditorium Theatre next week.
“We had the United Center dates booked, and there was a gap,” says Gilmour. “I suggested to my manager that we might try to do the Auditorium, because Pink Floyd played there a couple of times way, way back — probably in the ’71, ’72 period. I loved it.”
Gilmour’s latest album includes familiar notes from his sonic vocabulary, while also stretching into new shapes. The minor-chord funk strumming of title cut “Rattle That Lock” and its biting blues-based solo create faint echoes of “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2,” while also touching upon the sound of producer and bandmate Phil Manzanera’s group Roxy Music. Gilmour also indulges gleefully in the smoky cocktail jazz of “The Girl in the Yellow Dress.”
“The tune for that just popped out years ago,” says Gilmour. “I passed it over a couple of times. It didn’t seem to fit with the type of thing that I generally do, but I always loved it. This time, I thought, ‘If it’s me, it sounds like me.’ I’ve never really been the greatest of jazz fans, but some of the old Peggy Lee and Julie London songs are high on my list.”
Dating back to Pink Floyd’s 1994 album “The Division Bell,” one of Gilmour’s key musical partnerships has been with his wife. Polly Samson is an acclaimed British writer whose 2015 book “The Kindness” was published in the United States last week. Like the novel, the protest lyrics for “Rattle That Lock” were informed by Samson’s study of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The album balances other personal and heady topics, with family and joy on one side, and war and mortality on the other.
Samson’s emotive words during “A Boat Lies Waiting” seem to pour from Gilmour’s heart as much as her own. “It’s a tribute to [late Pink Floyd keyboardist] Rick Wright, really,” says Gilmour. The song muses on loss, as Gilmour sings, “Now I’m drifting through without you.” It follows with the showstopper, “And I’m rolling right behind you.”
“It’s a tune that Rick knew, because it was written long before he died,” says Gilmour. “Some songs have a long genesis, because they’re nervous to reveal exactly what they want to do and where they want to go. It suddenly seemed to Polly to be all about Rick.”
Gilmour harmonizes beautifully on the song with Graham Nash and David Crosby. “It creates a different sound to the proper CSN sound, but I love that little edge of Nash’s voice up there on top and Crosby’s melodic one sitting in the middle,” says Gilmour. “Anytime something like that comes up, I call on them. Hopefully, we’ll do it again in the future.”
Spotify playlist: http://bit.ly/GilmourSPOT
Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.