Album Review: Jeff Buckley – Grace
As anyone will know when you mention the name Jeff Buckley to someone, they will probably end up saying “Wasn’t he that bloke who sung Hallelujah?” or “I analysed the song Grace in my music course.” Well yes, he is that bloke that did sing both Grace and Hallelujah. But it’s the album Grace that made Buckley such a phenomenal talent in the early nineties, when he was considered to be pretty damn close to the likes of John Lennon and Bob Dylan. Grace is the only studio album completed by Jeff Buckley as he died in a drowning accident in 1997.
Grace begins with Mojo Pin which sets the correct tone as it gives a taster of what the listener should expect for the rest of the album. The song was inspired by a dream that Buckley had about a black woman. The lyrics suggest that he’s affected by a particular person that he becomes so traumatised with “Don’t want to weep for you/Don’t want to know/I’m blind and tortured.” The bridge of Mojo Pin is ferocious, but if you listen carefully, doesn’t it just reek of Led Zeppelin? In a way this is what made Buckley so strong as musician because he had the best musical upbringing. Grace begins with a guitar riff that provides lovely arpeggios while using reverb effects. Buckley’s voice in this track is incredible because the way he sings is quite gospel-esque which shows he is not limited when it comes to singing.
Last Goodbye is a feel-good song. The chords that are played as well as the input of strings makes this a graceful song among Buckley’s repetoire. The input of strings gives the track a lovely texture. Love, You Should’ve Come Over has similarities to Last Goodbye which is the perfect type of song to look out the window to while on a car journey. So Real rightly suggests in it’s name that this song is so real. Everything about this track is alive because when you listen to it, there isn’t anything artificial or commercialised about it, only the pure soul that Buckley puts across. The track once again highlights Buckley’s singing capabilities.
Hallelujah is Buckley’s take on Leonard Cohen’s original version. Buckley’s version is like the equivalent of Jimi Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower. The way Buckley took the song and made it his own was absolutely ingenious because Leonard Cohen’s version was bleak and there was not really any emotion behind the singing. Buckley took the song to another place that no-one expected because he incorporated his gentle fingerpicking style on guitar while accompanying it with his soothing vocals, which made this a haunting song on Grace. Corpus Christi Carol is a early modern English hymn which was first found by an apprentice grocer named Richard Hill in a manuscript written around 1504. The writer of the carol still remains anonymous. Buckley’s take on the carol shows that he’s not afraid of taking his music into different directions while keeping his origins in tact. The significant aspect to Buckley is that you could fit his music into any musical timeframe and it would fit perfectly.
As Grace is the only complete album by Jeff Buckley, it gave music enthusiasts something groundbreaking to remember him with. Buckley’s take on Grace inspired many subsequent musicians such as Matt Bellamy of Muse and PJ Harvey because of how different it was. The wonderful thing about Jeff Buckley’s music was that it had character, soul and depth which so many musicians in that era lacked. His musical abilities were spectacular and innovative because quite simply the man pushed boundaries, he kept expanding on ideas which would then lead to lovely developments. Jeff Buckley was such a unique talent that had so much more to give. God bless you, Jeff Buckley.