WHO IS HE? The longtime Guns N’ Roses bassist and former Seattle punk who shares a first name with a fictional beer — though he’s been a sober family man, freelance writer and financial advisor since he cleaned up his act after nearly drinking himself to death 25 years ago.
WHAT IS THIS? His third solo album (and umpteenth non-GN’R release), produced by second-generation country-rock outlaw Shooter Jennings — and apparently something of a musical sequel to his recent memoir How to Be a Man.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? In case the title doesn’t totally give it away, the cover pic of McKagan sitting down with an acoustic guitar should make it crystal clear: This is a set of sincere, slow-burning ballads. Weirdly enough, though, it doesn’t sound much like GN’R ballads: Thanks to Jennings’ twangy influence, McKagan’s Jaggeresque honk and heavy doses of piano and pedal steel, the disc might occasionally remind you of The Rolling Stones circa Let it Bleed. Assuming the Stones wrote songs that tacked America’s divided political landscape, homelessness, sexual assault and gun control.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Life is Duff. Or maybe Duff Times.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While watching the news and wondering where the hell everything went wrong.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Twangy, melancholy, traditional, bittersweet, gritty, thoughtful, southern, topical, dreary, passionate.
WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST SONGS? Chip Away gets the thumbs up for having a bit more pep in its step; Parkland gets a thumbs-down for its well-meaning but hamfisted, on-the-nose treatment of school shootings.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY THINK? That Duff needs to lighten up.
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Even less than you listen to his other solo albums.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE FOOD, WHAT KIND OF FOOD WOULD IT BE? One of those green protein shakes full of ingredients that you know are good for you but you’d still rather not have to choke down.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? I’m no financial advisor, but this seems like a bad investment.