You would have to travel a long way to find someone who does not know the name Guns n’ Roses; however, it is usually just the fans that know the names of members beyond that of Axl Rose and Slash. This is a real shame as bassist Duff McKagan is a truly talented musician in his own right and has released a fair catalogue of his own and Lighthouse covers styles, including classic rock, acoustic and even a touch of punk. It is quite an eclectic mix.
Opening with “Lighthouse,” McKagan makes it clear that this record differs from that of his work with the likes of Guns n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver. It starts with a slow acoustic guitar, with McKagan delivering a subdued story through his lyrics. As the tune builds, it becomes grander at a subtle pace up until its climax. “Longfeather” is when the record’s identity really comes to the surface. It is a soulful rock track with well-crafted riffs accompanied by piano notes that add further depth to what feels like a tune with complex layers that challenge the listener not to feel something on an emotional level.
“I Saw God on 10th Street” also utilizes an acoustic guitar riff, with McKagan employing his skills as a storyteller. The tune overall is quite upbeat; however, this is in contrast to the lyrics, which carry a darker tone to them. Like the opening track, as the tune continues, the tempo picks up to a much more rock n’ roll-driven song.
Lighthouse really moves into the realms of heavier rock with “Just Another Shakedown.” Well, I say rock; this track leans more towards puck rock and delivers a very different feel to the rest of the record. A similar statement could be made for “Hope” (just without leaning into punk rock). With support from bandmate Slash, the song really does shine with guitar riffs that are undoubtedly from the man himself. The tune is grand in nature, capturing what McKagan and Slash can create together. Another collaboration on display is “I Just Don’t Know.” this time with Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell. Unlike “Hope,” the tune takes on an orchestral style, slower in pace and more thought-provoking. It is still grand in its nature but differs greatly from “Hope.”
The record closes with an alternative, darker version of the opening track, “Lighthouse,” this time, however, with support from Iggy Pop. Whilst, for all intents and purposes, it is the same song; it takes on an entirely different persona due in part to Iggy Pop’s contribution. It feels more dystopian when Iggy Pop is singing which is in contrast to the slightly more positive feel of the initial opener at the start of the record.
Lighthouse is an incredible, emotionally driven and thought-provoking record that must be heard in full to be fully appreciated. It shows the very human side of McKagan that isn’t seen in his other projects, so this is well worth your attention.
Lighthouse Track Listing:
3. Holy Water
4. I Saw God on 10th Street
7. Just Another Shakedown
8. Fallen Ones
9. Hope (feat. Slash)
10. I Just Don’t Know (feat. Jerry Cantrell)
11. Lighthouse Reprise (feat. Iggy Pop)
Run Time: 40:40
Record label: BFD / Orchard / Sony
Release Date: October 20, 2023