Duff McKagan’s latest studio offering Lighthouse is an acoustic look of what makes the man who he is. This is the great man’s third solo album, amongst his many other outputs with other bands, however for a man so deeply personal in that output, this is further deep dive than before.
Musically, and lyrically, it’s from a man who has stories to tell and isn’t afraid of whatever image you have of him not being what he has of himself.
The album is built around eleven mainly acoustic tracks, with elements of gospel, blues, punk, rock n roll and some brutal honesty in the lyrics
Title trick Lighthouse, which builds into a crescendo of guitars and drums with a choir singing Shine, Shine, Shine, has McKagan imploring the lighthouse to guide him home.
Holy Water is a nice little rocking number which shows once again McKagan’s penchant for story telling with this one sounding painfully autobiographical.
If I told you I Saw God On 10th St was a take on today’s worlds events – war, corruption et al – and considering McKagan’s history, you’d be thinking this is going to be a full on punk number. You’d be right too however with acoustic guitars instead of distorted feedback. It makes the songs content actually more powerful as McKagan’s delivery punches down on every point needed to be made.
Just Another Shakedown is another number deeply rooted in McKagan’s early 80’s punk history however it’s in the almost gospel Fallen Down, a song about while falling down you can always rise above with support from your friends – or the bluesy Forgiveness that you begin to see there may be another theme on this album other than being based in acoustic.
That theme is ultimately faith. McKagan being from an Irish family you can most likely guess his background. What he is now is his business alone however a theme of finding oneself, being a light for others, guidance, looking for support in healthy ways makes this album not a standard solo rock album from a rock icon. It makes it a look into his diary on life.
To The Fallen Ones is an old school blues number that is a standout on the album which leads into Hope which has Slash – from some band Duff is also in – perform on. Hope itself has a nice Spanish rhythm to it and Slash’s work adds another layer to the beautifully crafted orchestration rather than taking over.
I Just Don’t Know features Duff’s old friend from hometown Seattle in Alice In Chains Jerry Cantrell and is the most obvious autobiographical song, mentioning being the youngest in the family and what he grew up with. It’s also a rather beautifully constructed number that it’s a bit sad when it finishes.
There’s time for Iggy Pop to do what Iggy Pop does, which is nail his spot during Lighthouse (Reprise) as he relates the opening tracks lyrics as an old man, who has struggled through life and needs to be guided home.
It’s not a balls out rock n roll album, Duff has them lined up elsewhere. It’s an album of a man who knows himself and has opened up lyrically and musically to show the world who he is now. It’s deeply thoughtful, emotional and is from his heart. This is for people who sometimes need a friend, a real friend in times of need, and Duff and this album is that friend.
Album Review By Iain McCallum