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Duff McKagan Talks About His New Solo Album 'Lighthouse'

Album artwork for Certified Depressant, the third EP from rising pop punk breakout Taylor Acorn.

Release Date: October 20, 2023 Genre: Rock Label: The World Is Flat

Duff McKagan, the iconic bassist of Guns N' Roses, has once again stepped into the spotlight with his latest solo album, Lighthouse. Known for his versatility and musical prowess, McKagan delivers a diverse collection of tracks that showcase his songwriting depth and the range of his artistic collaborations. The exact meaning of what the album's title of Lighthouse means to Duff all comes down to humanity while he's writing music. "You know, for all of us, for humanity, I try when I write songs, on how can I help the fucking world, you know...This beacon for all of us, of hope and goodness, whatever you want it to be," he shares.

The album opens with the titular track, "Lighthouse," setting a contemplative tone with its haunting melody and introspective lyrics. The opening track is a simple love song to his wife, however, it has multiple meanings, just as the album title suggests. "I think all of us have had those people in our life that in the lighthouse, they might not even know it. Some teacher you had said something to you, or some stranger who directed you, someone to direct, and you know, you keep on to that. [It has] a couple of different meanings at its root core, of course, it's just this simple love song to my wife," Duff reflects. McKagan's gravelly vocals convey a sense of vulnerability, drawing the listener into the emotional landscape of the album. This vulnerability is further explored in tracks like "Fallen" and "Forgiveness," where McKagan delves into themes of redemption and self-discovery.

Whereas, "Longfeather" introduces a different sonic dimension to the album, with its bluesy guitar riffs and soulful groove. The diversity of the tracks is a testament to McKagan's ability to seamlessly navigate various musical styles while maintaining a cohesive narrative throughout the album.

"I Saw God On 10th St." stands out with its gritty energy and raw instrumentation. The song captures a sense of urban grit and spiritual searching, creating a dynamic contrast to the more reflective moments on the album. The collaboration with legendary guitarist Slash on "Hope" -a song originally recorded in 1996- adds another layer to the record, blending McKagan's signature sound with Slash's iconic guitar work.

McKagan continues to expand his sonic palette with "Just Another Shakedown" and "Fallen Ones," incorporating elements of hard rock and alternative influences. These tracks showcase his musical evolution while remaining true to his rock roots.

The album reaches its climax with "I Just Don't Know," featuring Alice In Chains guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell. The combination of McKagan's gritty vocals and Cantrell's soulful guitar work creates a powerful and emotionally charged experience. The collaboration brings a nostalgic element reminiscent of the '90s rock scene while maintaining a contemporary edge.

The closing track, "Lighthouse (Reprise)" featuring Iggy Pop, provides a fitting bookend to the album. Iggy Pop's distinctive voice adds a haunting quality to the reprise, leaving the listener with a lingering sense of introspection.

Lighthouse is a testament to Duff McKagan's evolution as a solo artist. The album's exploration of diverse musical styles, coupled with introspective lyrics and powerful collaborations, makes it a compelling and engaging listen. McKagan's ability to blend his rock roots with contemporary influences results in a work that feels both timeless and fresh. Lighthouse stands as a beacon of artistic expression, guiding listeners through the complex and multifaceted journey of Duff McKagan's musical vision and his storied life. At one point in time, while recording and writing Lighthouse, Duff had a slightly hard time narrowing down the songs that made the cut for the album, as he was sitting on 60 songs to put out on this project while maintaining a cohesive story being told between the album's 10 tracks. In the future, McKagan would love to further collaborate with fellow musicians on his solo records, notably Axl Rose, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan. "I'd do a duet with Axl on something like this. I'd love to do a duet with Bruce Springsteen. You know, perhaps on something like this. Bob Dylan, that'd be ridiculous... I'd like to maybe have Mike Campbell's The Heartbreakers, you know, be my band for a show. How amazing would that be? I can reach for the stars," Duff says with excitement. Hopefully soon, Duff will announce a tour in regards to performing these ten new songs. Prior to the album's release, Duff had been seriously looking over musicians to form his future touring band and had talked about when, where, and how many shows the entire album would have around his commitments with Guns N' Roses. "I gotta have singers. I have to have good players," he states. Unfortunately, the touring cycle for Lighthouse will be short and sweet. "I'd love to do London and Paris and Poland... Milan was really great. [I want to] play some meaningful places and I'm not going to go and play every little place. So we're going to really research this [and] do some wonderful gigs in Europe and in the States. Not a ton, not a ton at all. You know, I could see myself doing 12 shows in the States, 12 shows in Europe. That's it. But you never know," Duff concludes.


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