Grace is the debut studio album from Jeff Buckley and it was released on August 23rd, 1994. It was the only full studio album that he released as while he was working on the follow up he tragically drowned in the Mississippi river.
This is the only proper studio album that Jeff Buckley completed in his lifetime but listening to it now makes you feel like you’ve just listened to three or four albums in one sitting, such is the depth and range of this album. From the opening whiskery drum intro of ‘Mojo Pin’ to the last reverberant chord of ‘Dream Brother’, you’re subjected to an incredible journey that seamlessly straddles a devastating range of emotions and styles.
Few albums have displayed so many influences and yet sounded so wholly original. Jeff included three covers – ‘Lilac Wine’, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Corpus Christi Carol’ – all of which will surely come to be embedded in the popular consciousness as Jeff’s own. The fact that Benjamin Britten and Leonard Cohen share album space is testament to Jeff’s virtuosity. You can also hear shades of the Cure in the swirling guitars of ‘Dream Brother’ and Jimmy Page-style riffing as ‘Lover, You Should Have Come Over’ reaches its zenith.
Some may hold this album responsible for spawning various falsetto singing clones but they will never hit upon the heart of Jeff Buckley. How many lovelorn troubadours have succeeded in writing a lyric as vivid but simple as “My kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder”? How many acoustic bands have matched that perfect triumphant climax in ‘Last Goodbye’? The answer, to my ears, is not many.
The fact that some of the material on the posthumous album Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk could have been even better than Grace only serves to magnify the tragedy of Jeff’s death. However, let’s be glad that we still have some of Jeff’s music to cherish. Grace can often be seen as a depressing album, but there are moments when you can almost “hear” Jeff smile as he realises that he has created something truly glorious.
1. Mojo Pin
3. Last Goodbye
4. Lilac Wine
5. So Real
7. Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
8. Corpus Christi Carol
9. Eternal Life
10. Dream Brother
Photo Credit: Jazz Guy