ARTS January 6th, 2017

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North Toronto musician bares all in album

After two years, Duff MacDonald's Naked is set to launch

The wounds may have healed, but the scar tissue is still fresh with North Toronto musician Duff MacDonald.

Three years ago, he lost his mom, Doreen, to pancreatic cancer. In the months following he shared his vision on the best way to pay homage to her.

He did so through song, and after a busy 2016, MacDonald has finally released Naked, the album he first spoke about with the Town Crier in 2014.

­After coming home from a trip to Scotland, one the 50-year-old says was cathartic, he worked with friend, producer-arranger Michael Lerner, to finally craft what he wanted to say about his mom, a lost love, and the death of his brother.

“We both had the same vision,” MacDonald says, seated inside Fresh on Eglinton. “He had such a solid plan in place.

“He had just had a baby, so he wanted to stay at home and take care of his kid. It was a really awesome marriage we had, minus the children.”

What was born from their collaboration was an album that deviated from the pop sound he was initially interested in. Lerner brought in the likes of mixer Dean Drouillard, who has worked with Royal Wood, and Dan Turcotte. Also on board was bassist Peter Bleakney, who has performed with Anne Murray for 25 years.

“I was listening to Imogen Heap, and I really liked the acoustic with the electronic,” he says. “The more I worked on it, and the more I discussed it with Michael, naked is the way the music should be too.

“We had to constantly remind ourselves to keep everything basic.”

MacDonald got by with a little help from his friends, he admits, and the best effort came from his friend, and Juno Award nominee, Wendy Lands.

“She’s always been my inspiration for a recording career,” he admits, while flashing a toothy grin. “I love the timbre of her voice. It’s very sweet. I’m over the moon that she did it.”

Now that Naked is out, and a release party is set for January, MacDonald can focus on his next few projects, including the stage performance of Dandelions in the Wind at the Daniels Spectrum Theatre, as well as an episode of “Incorporated” on the SyFy Channel.

And there’s more music in his cache to produce a third album.

“There’s always this thing with me, get those down, and get it done,” he says of the music that didn’t make the cut for Naked. “I had a couple of options of a different ilk. Mike (Lerner) and I put those aside, and said, okay that’s for the next album.”