Duff certainly has been a busy boy in the last 18 months since his last solo album hit the streets. Touring with his day job in Guns n Roses, playing on the new magnificent eclectic Iggy Pop album and finding the time to record his latest eclectic masterpiece. ‘Lighthouse is less an acoustic reflective and dark affair that the last one was but is more upbeat whilst still retaining the Americana acoustic feel for large swathes of this effort. Title track and sombre opener merely eases you in for the epic widescreen adventure of ‘Longfeather’ thats like an arcing sunrise of sound bursting through the speakers, McKagan leads the band with an excellent engagingly warm vocal that will have you hanging off his every word as the sound build and builds.
I must admit I’m really impressed with this more mature Duff we are hearing, it would be easy for him to hash out a roots punk rock n roll record or lean on his day job band but instead he digs deep and really works on the melodies and arrangments and the huge brush strokes that paint this rich tapestry of rock n roll. ‘Holy Water’ builds on a solid bass line as it weaves a crooked path through some great vocals towards its lush chorus its a beautiful thing at volume.
‘Hope’ (featuring veteran Paul McCartney drummer Abe Laboriel Jr and melodic lead guitar from Slash) and the philosophical ‘I Just Don’t Know’ (featuring contributions from McKagan’s longtime friend, Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains) to name check some of the players who lend a helping hand to these deeply personal songs.
‘I Saw God On 10th Street’ is an acoustic rocker that has one foot in acoustic punk rock whilst the energy and buskability is what drives this song towards the superb electric solo and handclaps that raise your soul and paint a smile on the coldest heart. ‘Fallen Down’ is a beautiful slice of organ driven soulful balladry bu tthe albums biggest strength is the ebb and flow and quality of the songs delivery and that has to be down to the fact that McKagan truly believes in the words he’s singing and its joyful even in the darkest corners of this record.
Don’t be disapointed that its not like bursting with punk rock n roll anthems because the ones here like ‘Just Another shakedown’ deliver enough quality next to the ebb and flow I was talking about earlier next to the sweet ‘the Fallen Ones’ and then were onto ‘Hope’ where Slash plays a blinder as the song shuffles to its powerful conclusion. In contrast Cantrells playing on penultimate track ‘I Just Don’t Know’ is laid back and empathetic rather than showing off and its all about the song and not the player which makes the songs even better.
Leaving the ‘Lighthouse reprise’ to wrap up a fantastic journey through another mighty fine record from Duff McKagan and having Iggy Pop speak as the sunsets on one of 2023’s finest albums it’s the two musicians who played on my favousite from way back in January because this and ‘Every Loser’ will easily make my top 10 for 2023. Buy It!
Auther: Dom Daley