DUFF McKAGAN – Lighthouse (2023)

DUFF McKAGAN - Lighthouse (2023) - full

DUFF McKAGAN is easily one of the coolest guys in rock. The Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and Iggy Pop & The Losers bassist does his job, doesn’t make a big deal about things, and doesn’t look to too up or down. He always seems to always play the right thing and just looks cool doing it.
He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for being in a band partially responsible for a huge shift in hard rock music when it was desperately needed in the late 1980s. Yet you watch him on stage and you’d never know he’s not just some guy who walked off the street and, unfazed, just got up to play with some neighborhood group.
So how’s his new solo album, ”Lighthouse”? Also cool.
This 11-tracker is made by a guy who gives himself the space to make his own music without feeling the need to compete with his stadium-occupying band. And that’s… yeap, cool.

McKagan launches his new record with the title track, dedicated to his wife, that’s all mood. It’s mostly just a guy and an acoustic guitar, though he builds the band in later. It’s a good starting vibe. He means what he sings and it works, especially toward the end.
“Longfeather” is a borderline great song. Again, it’s all vibe, with just the right upbeat old West soundtrack chords and build. Simplicity is the key to this record; Duff McKagan doesn’t try to be what he’s not. Epic greatness is the goal when he gets together with the talented guys at his day job. But the flip side of being in GNR is only greatness is allowed from that band. “Longfeather” is a nice, well-put together rock song, by a musician with a good rock voice.

“Holy Water” is another very good effort that’s all positive vibe. There’s a reason McKagan tends to have the best solo stuff from GNR. It’s tight and focused and has a real simple American rock feel. His vocals also sneak up on you; they get better the more you listen.
“I Saw God on 10th Street” is where you really hear the influence of his pal Iggy Pop. He sings with the same punky over-enunciation that drives the song over the acoustic riff until simple Stooges fuzz guitar takes over (but not too much). It’s simple, but effective.

Duff shifts gears with “Fallen Down, with some Hammond organ that doesn’t overwhelm the vocals. “Forgiveness” is OK; not good enough to stand out without something else added to it.
But he bounces back with “Just Another Shakedown,” an electric rocker. It actually sounds like something you might come up with while jamming with buddies. It’s fun right then, but you eventually find something else to play.
“To the Fallen Ones” is a nice change of pace, with some warm guitar. Speaking of which, Slash makes an appearance on “Hope,” which brings a bit more rock grandeur to the beginning of a well-constructed song.

The other guitar guest shot comes next, from Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell in the personal-sounding “I Just Don’t Know,” during which McKagan sings better than anywhere else on the record. He even sounds a little familiar when he goes high (which probably made Axl Rose wonder why his bass player didn’t save this one for GNR). It moves well enough between more than just a couple parts.

The record ends with 92 seconds of a reprise of the opening title track, only with guest star Iggy Pop doing spoken word that sounds like it’s delivered through a couple hundred pounds of mud.
All in all, it’s a good record … a cool record, and worth a listen.


01 – Lighthouse
02 – Longfeather
03 – Holy Water
04 – I Saw God On 10th St.
05 – Fallen
06 – Forgiveness
07 – Just Another Shakedown
08 – Fallen Ones
09 – Hope [feat Slash]
10 – I Just Don’t Know [feat Jerry Cantrell]
11 – Lighthouse (Reprise) [feat Iggy Pop]

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