Duff McKagan - Tenderness

Duff McKagan Tenderness cover
Duff McKagan
Universal Music Enterprises
Duff McKagan’s discography outside the Guns N’ Roses has been odd, inconsistent and quite bizarre to be honest. From the 90s “Believe in Me” album that must have been released as an afterthought tie in to his main band’s “Illusions” success, probably with leftovers from that era, to an unreleased 99 – much darker followup “Beautiful Dissease” that ended up shelved due to a merger between companies, to the generally forgettable punk rock of the “Loaded” era of releases (which saw quite a few of the BD songs re-recorded) to now almost a decade later an almost country rock album, inspired by the travels that Duff had around the world, with presumably a clearer head, so as to remember things.
Think of the mellower moments of GnR (including of that Bob Dylan cover) and mix that with a bit of the Nashville sound… and a cool if not introspective vibe and you got “Tenderness” alright.
The title song, “Tenderness”, which is the opener, follows that “Dylanesque” dogma to a T and is nice for what it is.
“Parkland” is mighty dark, discussing the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting and related events… this time the Dylan style is crossed with some Floydesque sustained tones and it’s as dramatic as the subject matter would have it be.
“Don’t Look Behind You” is a dark prog ballad that mixes The Beatles, saxophones, and what not in a bouillabaisse, that’s not exactly consistent… the main culprit here, other than the loosely cooked together ingredients, is unfortunately Duff’s vocals. Perfect for “accompaniment” but not good enough for lead, due to his rather dull timbre.
“It’s Not Too Late” is another Dylanesque folklore paean, about inequalities in America, but it hardly becomes the rousing cry one would hope it would be.
“Wasted Heart” is more country/folk oriented, a ballad, that works somewhat, if not for the ropey vocals.
“Falling Down” is yet another sorrowful slow song in an album that hardly does anything to drag itself out of the trench it digs itself into.
“Last September” is another acoustic tune, this time reminiscent of Tom Petty more than anything which tries to take a side on the #metoo discussion, about abuse of power in the media circles… especially when it comes to how women are treated (let’s not forget about the Kevin Spacey and Asia Argento’s predatory female to male alleged relations), but it all seems to complicated and thorny a matter to touch in a country ballad. Of course, women need to be treated equally and not have to stand for chauvinist behaviors by men in positions of power, but at the same time, people have been brought down due to sexual scandals and this use of sex as a weapon, should be elaborated further. Maybe an entire album of songs on the subject?
“Chip Away” is some half neat Americana & Country Rock with tambourine shakes and fiddles, that’s probably the other good song on here other than the title track and “Parkland”, at least musically speaking.
“Cold Outside” wasted potentially nice “slow” ideas over pretty much the same template, without much staying power.
“Feel” has seven writers no less and I’ve hardly ever seen a song of so few notes, having so many writers, y’know. It’s another pretty boring ballad, with a bizarre chorus, with slides and gospel vocals that at times sound sibilant with other things…
Closer “Breaking Rock” is still country rock, but at least, sung with some conviction – so hickey’s might love it… I mean I sort of do, at least the βλαχο/hickey part of me…
Overall, a really uneven and different album from the Guns N’ Roses bassist that arrives unheralded and will probably disappear down history’s annals just as quick as it appeared.