Legendary artist Duff McKagan’s latest romp Lighthouse feels like I’m listening to pages straight from his diary. The seasoned artist’s echoes resonate in every note, carrying the marks and wisdom of his nearly six decades of life, peeling back the layers of his artist talent. This album is reminiscent of the rootsy journey traced by its predecessor, Tenderness, yet injects a burst of punk rock vitality whilst dialling down some countrified tones.
In the title track, a gospel-tinged narrative unfolds laying bare McKagan’s soul as he recounts a life buffeted by chaos, misfortune, and self-inflicted wounds. Vulnerability meets redemption as he implores the Lighthouse to shine on and mend his aching bones. The blend of raw emotion and optimism is beautifully woven throughout the entire album.
Tracks like I Just Don’t Know featuring Jerry Cantrell, and the charged Hope, with GN’R band mate Slash on guitar, showcases McKagan’s prowess in crafting melodic reflections on youth and moments of uncertainty. Longfeather sounds to be drawing inspiration from Cormac McCarthy, and delivers a robust hard rock experience, while the more punk heavy romp I Saw God On 10th St. and the country rock gem Forgiveness bring a touch of humour to despair.
While Lighthouse is a departure from the wilder days of Guns N’ Roses, it mirrors the honesty of McKagan’s punk rock roots. The album blends acoustic and punk-rock elements to capture his multifaceted journey.
Duff McKagan unveils a more intimate facet in Lighthouse steering into the emotive tones, steering from the aggressive sounds of GN’R and the raw style of his other band, Loaded. The ballad-style tone set by the title track engages listeners with metaphorical lyrics that yearn for a lighthouse in dark times.
The reprise track with Iggy Pop takes an unexpected turn and is a synth, sci-fi dream with a dreamy dark tone from Iggy’s vocals blended with some sounds that would belong on any good movie soundtrack. It lends a creepy factor that sent shivers down the spine and had me looking over my shoulder for something following me.
Duff McKagan’s artistic spirit is illuminated (haha, puns) by Lighthouse with it being the culmination of a 40-year journey in the music industry. Fusing acoustic elements with hard-edged rock, the album strikes a balance between soul-searching reflection and unbridled energy.
Born in McKagan’s own studio, Lighthouse mirrors McKagan’s multifaceted talent and unwavering commitment to authenticity in his craft. I’ll give this album a solid 4 out of 5, and is a must listen for everyone.
Duff McKagan: Facebook
Release Year: 2023
Label: The World Is Flat
Reviewed by Jai ‘Jaimunji’ Setright