ARTIST OF THE MONTH: JEFF BUCKLEY
September 1, 2019
With the amazing ‘Grace’ turning twenty five this year, we’re proud to celebrate the work of Jeff Buckley, our Artist of the Month for September.
Jeff Buckley is that rare breed of artist who exists solely in a universe and genre of his own making. Though his tragic, early passing in 1997 froze him forever in the cultural and public imagination, such was the power, uniqueness and sheer originality of ‘Grace’, the sole album to be released in his lifetime, that it rightly continues to grow in stature a quarter of a century since its original appearance.
Crucially, ‘Grace’ continues to reach out to subsequent generations of fans who are touched by its audacity and naked honesty.
What also marks out ‘Grace’ and Jeff Buckley for special attention is that this is an album that refuses to date or be tethered to the times in which it was created. It simply is, living not so much in a bubble as articulating universal truths and an honesty of the soul that dares lesser talents to at least try to make an effort to catch up with it.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that it becomes hard to pin down one single track as its highlight given that ‘Grace’ is best experienced as a narrative cycle with a beginning, middle and end.
Yet what is it that makes the music of Jeff Buckley so special? Is it his voice? A tremulous falsetto, it reveals a raw vulnerability while simultaneously boasting a confidence that belies his years. Aching and yearning, this is a delivery that goes so much deeper than touching the head and the heart; this is something that moves into the territory of the deeply profound.
Perhaps it’s the songwriting? After all, this is music of startling originality that offers little concession to what came before it, around it and what was to come. Be it the instrumentation, the arrangements, or the delivery, it could only come from a single source. Of course, it’s all of these things and that they conspire to make the album’s three covers – ‘Lilac Wine’, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Corpus Christi Carol’ – wholly his own is a testament to Jeff Buckley’s singular talent.
And though his life was short and his perfectionism high, he left behind more than a tantalising glimpse of what could have been. The posthumous collection, ‘Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk’, revealed a fastidious artist at work as he strived for the highest quality he could possibly achieve. Elsewhere, the live album ‘Mystery White Boy’ confirmed Buckley’s power as a performer.
And it’s now that the full picture can be revealed. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the evergreen ‘Grace’, Jeff Buckley’s back catalogue is bolstered by the release of highly sought-after live recordings that find him in full flight: ‘Live At Wetlands, New York, NY 8/16/94’, ‘Live From Seattle, WA, May 7, 1995’, ‘Cabaret Metro, Chicago, IL, May 13, 1995’, and, for the first time in its entirety, ‘Live At Columbia Records Radio Hour’, a special full-band show recorded 4th June, 1995 at Sony Music Studios in New York City.
Whether you’re re-affirming your love for this timeless music or falling in love with it for the very first time, this music will transcend us all, and stay in your heart forever.
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