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Duff McKagan – Tenderness

Duff McKagan
by Dave Nowels at 22 June 2019, 11:35 AM

If you're expecting the fire and fury, or perhaps a hint of what GUNS & ROSES might have up their proverbial sleeve in the future, this might not be the release for you. DUFF MCKAGAN's new release, “Tenderness” is more in common with the quieter side of “G N' R Lies” than the rebellious hedonism of “Appetite For Destruction”. In fact, this is easily an album more geared towards an Americana crowd than fans of Metal. Yet, that's not to say that “Tenderness” doesn't have it's share of edge to it, because it absolutely does. It's just that the edge of “Tenderness” comes more from a lyrical approach than sonically.

“Tenderness” is a statement record more than anything else. A social commentary if you will. A wealth of social ills and concerns are approached in McKagan's thoughtfully rendered lyrics. School shootings (“Parkland”), the political climate (“Chip Away”), domestic abuse (“Last September”) homelessness (“Cold Outside”), and the opiod Crisis (“Falling Down”). Never do these subjects come across trivialized or overtly politicized. These songs are personal, sincere and needed. McKagan simply sings from the heart as if attempting to unburden a troubled soul and it works pretty well.

Musically, McKagan has a power house cast of musicians backing him up here, that is essentially Shooter Jennings' (Waylon's son) vastly talented, longtime band as well as some subtle and effective horns. Jennings produced and mixed “Tenderness”, and it manages to convey a gritty, earthy feel throughout. At times, the song structures and vocal presentation take unheralded, and yes, even questionable turns. But its never enough so that it derails the momentum or message that McKagan and Jennings sought. Instead, it actually seems to cement McKagan's uniqueness, as well as his ability to effortlessly glide into an unexpected genre. Personal highlights for me were the title track and the perfectly placed album closing track, “Don't Look Behind You”. These two songs effectively bookmark the album in a way that it seems that we've just stolen a glance at McKagan's private journals.

McKagan's “Tenderness” shows just that. Tenderness, sincerity and ultimately a more optimistic approach from a man that's done his share of hard living. There's confidence here, along with hard earned wisdom and a belief that we're better than the sum of our parts.

Originality: 8
Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Tenderness
2. It's Not Too Late
3. Wasted Heart
4. Falling Down
5. Last September
6. Mother Fucker You're Lying
7. Chip Away
8. Cold Outside
9. Feel
10. Breaking Rocks
11. Parkland
12. Don't Look Behind You

Duff McKagan – Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Shooter Jennings – Keyboard, Guitar, Vocals
John Schreffler – Guitars
John Graboff – Pedal Steel
Aubrey Richmond – Fiddle
Jamie Douglass – Drums

Record Label: UME/Hip-O Records


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