Bono once said, “Jeff Buckley is a pure drop in an ocean of noise.”
The dewy eyed Dubliner’s love of grandiose proclamation can be annoying, but here his hyperbole is justified.
Buckley died nearly 20 years ago but in a world where auto tune hovers around like an unnecessary evil, he still stands alone.
You and I is essentially an album of demos, but they’re well worth the listening because of Buckley’s intense creativity and individualism.
Sometimes with an artist you understand that they just have to be themselves no matter what, and so it was with Buckley. His conviction was inspiring. He deconstructed well known songs in free-form fashion.
The songs are Buckley and guitar and the two are powerful enough to get any nuance of his imagination across. Just Like a Woman is drawn out long and flowing and Everyday People has a funky guitar treatment.
At times the recording is unsettling.
Buckley’s reputation was founded on artistic integrity and the candid context of the album focuses on how expressive his voice was. This character is haunting, and although Buckley’s voice and music had that undercurrent when he was alive, the posthumous release amplifies this. If Buckley hadn’t drowned in 1997, this album wouldn’t be out now, but this limited recording warrants its release.
Buckley’s reworkings of songs by The Smiths, Led Zeppelin, Louis Jordan and old blues songs are true re-interpretations and the early takes of his own songs Dream of You and I and Grace are beautiful performances.
You and I is well edited and the music has a proper context. Early material is sketched out in candid form by a musician who never hit mainstream, but didn’t need to.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon based musician who reviews the latest music releases for The Morning Star every Friday.