tue 11/08/2020

CD: Jeff Buckley - You and I | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jeff Buckley - You and I

CD: Jeff Buckley - You and I

Sketches for a masterpiece

'Buckley was in the process of finding his voice'

Jeff Buckley, who died much too young, only made one studio album, Grace. Part-channelling his sweet-voiced father Tim, and part-exploring a strand of rock that was both dangerously wild and exquisitely sophisticated, it was a revelation and a masterpiece. To this day, it sounds as fresh and deeply moving as ever.

There has been, over the years, a series of posthumous releases, some of them constructions based on half-finished work, little of which matched the sheer brilliance of Grace, as well as some impressive live material – Buckley was a powerhouse on stage, with a band that fed on his unbridled passion and drove him to dizzy heights. There was some early material – much of it well-chosen covers – recorded at Sin-é, a small club he played at regularly when he first started performing in NYC.

The songs on You and I are from the Sin-é period, all but two of them covers. Just signed to Columbia, Buckley was in the process of finding his voice in every sense. He is trying out the shapes of his stage persona, that spine-chilling play with the edges of falsetto and phrasing that dared to risk everything in the name of pure emotion. It’s inevitably hit-and-miss, and perhaps all the more touching for that. And yet, these are sketches for a masterpiece – not a fully-formed achievement.

The stand-out track, worth buying the album for, is a rendition of Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman” which matches any other in existence, including the one on Blonde on Blonde. The rest is a little uneven: an Ur-version of “Grace” which is such a good song that even a demo is worth hearing; Bukka White’s “Poor Boy” with savage bottleneck guitar has some of the fury Buckley could produce when he let go. This is an album for Buckley fans, mostly. If you are looking for a way in, then Grace is the one, or the live DVD which remains as good a legacy as any for this sadly-lost vocal master and rock original.

The stand-out track, worth buying the album for, is a rendition of Dylan’s 'Just Like a Woman' which matches any other in existence

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3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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