Jeff Buckley


Grace

Jeff Buckley - Grace ©1994 Sony
1. Mojo Pin
2. Grace
3. Last Goodbye
4. Lilac Wine
5. So Real
6. Hallelujah
7. Lover, You Should've Come Over
8. Corpus Christi Carol
9. Eternal Life
10. Dream Brother

Jeff Buckley's first and last fully recorded studio album still stands as one of rock's most mature and unique rock-songwriter debut records. Buckley's eclectic tastes, his remarkably creative and polished musicianship, and his extraordinary voice allowed him to cull elements from multiple influences (gospel, Leonard Cohen and other "dark-intelligent-involved" songwriters, post-60s Indian-y droney rock) into songs that were clearly his own.

The album's songs range from Telecaster-rock-with-a-degree-in-philosophy ("Eternal Life", "So Real") to ballads (the surprisingly cheerful broken-love song "Last Goodbye") to dark, hard-edged songwriter-rock songs ("Lilac Wine", "Lover...", "Mojo Pin"). Buckley and his tight backing band are beautifully represented by Andy Wallace's clear and balanced production, lending more credence to the observation that Andy Wallace is one of rock's truly great (if discreet) producers. The musicians' interaction suggests a mostly live-in-the-studio recording, which lets their sense of dynamics shine ("Grace", "Eternal Life", the rave-ups in "Mojo Pin") and adds excitement and poignancy to Buckley's songs and unexpected covers. But more immediately obvious is Buckley's prodigious vocal range, expressiveness and technique. One hand is enough to count the musicians whose performance brings tears to my eyes, and Buckley is one of them.

This is a songwriter-rock album for people who don't especially care for songwriter-rock. A desert-island record. Absolutely essential.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 04/2001

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Sketches (For My Sweetheart The Drunk)

Jeff Buckley - Sketches (For My Sweetheart The Drunk) ©1998 Columbia
CD one:
1. The Sky Is A Landfill
2. Everybody Here Wants You
3. Opened Once
4. Nightmares By The Sea
5. Yard Of Blonde Girls
6. Witches' Rave
7. New Year's Prayer
8. Morning Theft
9. Vancouver
10. You & I
CD two:
1. Nightmares By The Sea
2. New Year's Prayer
3. Haven't You Heard
4. I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted To Be)
5. Murder Suicide Meteor Slave
6. Back In N.Y.C.
7. Demon John
8. Your Flesh Is So Nice
9. Jewel Box
10. Satisfied Mind

Released one year after Buckley's accidental death in 1997, Sketches is a collection of unfinished songs he had been working on with and without Tom Verlaine as a producer, and which were supposed to appear on the follow-up album to the stunning Grace. Some of the songs are almost fully realized, while others are very raw four-track blueprints. A couple of songs appear in two different versions.

The almost-finished songs have an 80s dark-guitar-rock feel and don't depart considerably from the songwriting style Buckley deployed on his first album. The production is sometimes overly bare and antiseptic ("Nightmares by the Sea" on disc one) , with little of the compelling dynamics that characterized Grace. This production, together with the sheer number of songs and their unfinished state, contributes to robbing Sketches from Grace's bludgeon-to-the-senses effect.

However, the material is solid and a few remarkable songs are definitely present ("New Year's Prayer", "Morning Theft"). In particular, "Vancouver" and "Nightmares by the Sea" (disc two) stand out as complete statements, on a par with the best material on his previous album, and two formidable vocal performances (the 70s soul number "Everybody Here Wants You" and "You and I") are sufficient to make anyone interested in Buckley want to obtain this set pdq.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 04/2001

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