Jeff Buckley
Grace


3.5
great

Review

by Jared W. Dillon USER (118 Reviews)
May 26th, 2006 | 1191 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist


Most great musicians’ children suck. Well, maybe not suck but they certainly never reach anywhere near the success or greatness their parents held. Bob Dylan, one of the key revolutionary forces in music in the 60s and 70s had a song involved with music. Anyone remember the Wall Flowers? Yeah, didn’t think so. What did we get from the son of Bob Dylan; bland modern rock, when we all were probably hoping for so much more. Where is drum master John Bonham’s son? Well, let’s just say the best thing he can do is go on Vh1’s reality television show ‘Supergroup’ and try to make some money off of his name. Certainly not all great musicians’ children are horrible in their pursuits, Ravi Coltrane has made a good name for himself among the jazz circuit, but the fact is most of these musicians make a living/career off of their parents’ success. Enter Tim Buckley, jazz and avant garde singer/song writer who was known for his immense vocal talents. Tim Buckley’s range and use of voice in his work is something that was rarely seen especially on his release ‘Lorca’. Tim Buckley died at the age of 28 (of an apparent OD) but not before having a special little child named Jeff.

Jeff Buckley is probably one of the most interesting and talented musicians to come out of the 90s. With his ridiculous vocal range of three and a half octaves, and his lush music production Buckley’s record ‘Grace’ was released to critical acclaim and garners high respect from artists such as Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy (of Radiohead and Muse respectively.) While ‘Grace’ isn’t an extraordinarily original album, it does have a special spot in most alternative music fan’s hearts. Buckley’s fondness of making original covers translates itself over to his only fully realized LP in the form of ‘Lilac Wine’, ‘Hallelujah’, and ‘Corpus Christi Carol’. Some listeners do complain about the excessive amount of covers on this album since they technically make up almost one third of the album. Yet, Buckley like Johnny Cash possesses the ability to turn cover songs into songs that are all his own, which helps these covers blend in perfectly with the rest of the album’s sound. Speaking of the album’s sound, it has a very solemn, jazzy feel that is brought some brightness in the form of Buckley’s vocal melodies. Due to amount of range Jeff possesses he is able to single handedly change the mood, or evoke some otherwise unseen emotion, in the various points of his songs. The effect of this is seen excellently on the track ‘So Real’ where he begins the song with some quiet singing and then during the chorus he extends himself into a melody that would trip most vocal chords of the average rock singer. Throughout the song his constant change of singing, to all out bawling, to quiet talking makes the mood of the listener swing with the hymns of Buckley. The instrumentation on the track and throughout the song is also superb and helps create the perfect backdrop for Buckley’s vocal expertise.

Although for the most part, every song on ‘Grace’ is extremely well done the album does have its flaws. For one the actual track ordering of the album is very poor in my opinion. The album starts off with three mildly catchy and poppy songs in the form of 'Mojo Pin', 'Grace' and 'Last Goodbye'. While these songs have an airy and somewhat happy feeling to them, the lyrical content shows differently, and they do seem like they are odes to the demons of Buckley. After these three great tracks, the first cover in the form of ‘Lilac Wine’ is placed upon us. ‘Lilac Wine’ in my opinion is the weakest and most useless track on the album and could’ve easily been replaced by a Buckley original. After ‘Lilac Wine’ we have to deal with two very solemn, yet very beautiful tracks. ‘So Real’ and the intensely emotional cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ are two of the albums finest moments, and this is where part of the track listings problem lies. For the good half of the first album (five tracks to be exact) we are given the best Buckley has to offer and it kind of makes the rest of the album suffer in comparsion. While ‘Lover, You Should Have Come Over’ and the rest of the tracks following ‘Hallelujah’ are solid tracks, they have no way in competing with the rest of the album. The other fact that they certainly don’t really shift the solemn feel of the album also makes it get a little monotone towards track seven, ‘Corpus Christi Carol’ which feels like a ‘Hallelujah’ rehash. The ordering does shape itself up after this though, with two heavy songs in the forum of ‘Eternal Life’ and ‘Dream Brother’ these songs switch the depressing mood that has been established, and it helps save the album’s beauty of becoming too repetitious. I think if the label, or Buckley would have spread the more catchy tracks that open the album, throughout the listing, it would’ve made tracks like ‘Corpus Christi Carol’ suffer less from the blandness they suffer due to what seems repetitious.

“Grace’s” real problem lies in its repetitiveness, whether it is in the similar production of every track, or at times even the overbearing ability of Buckley’s voice. These problems don’t hurt the album too much, but I do think they tarnish the reputation the album has in some circles. It certainly is not a perfect album, and I think had Buckley lived past his sadly early demise, he would’ve made a far much more interesting and eclectic album, but regrettably we will never know.

Lyrically, Buckley is a very talented individual. While most of the songs do seem to be centered on the loss of love, or problems with relationships, his flawless imagery and wording really add to the beauty of the album. Instead of falling into the pitfall of criticizing the spouse, like most modern pop-punk bands seem to do, Buckley is able to examine the entire situation of the relationship as well as his problems, and this is made most evident in the song ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ specifically in the line “Well maybe I'm just too young/To keep good love from going wrong”. Unlike most of his alternative peers, Buckley’s lyrical intensity feels very sincere and honest in comparison to the anger and contempt most bands were releasing during the time of this albums release. Buckley’s utter originality and emotional bareness in lyrical conception is what makes him so successful, and what continues to harness new fans into the strange yet beautiful music he creates.

‘Grace’ is certainly a good album, but how good an album is hard to judge. At times I often find myself craving the album immensely, its production lush, its ever motion complimenting what I’m feeling, but during other times, I find its repetitive nature very annoying and keeping me from enjoying it as much as I could. At many times in my life, I’m sure I could’ve rated this album with a perfect rating, but at this time I feel it has some issues with it that could’ve been easily fixed. The near-horrendous track listing and the similar feel to all the songs excluding ‘Eternal Life’ make it fall to being just a great album. Still, I’m sure many people would enjoy this album immensely so don’t let the non-perfect album rating discourage you from checking ‘Grace’ out. This album certainly is a beautiful and interesting thing, from one of the only musician’s children to ever do something like it.



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user ratings (1387)
Chart.
4.5
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
masada
May 26th 2006


2733 Comments


Nice.

Just what the doctor prescribed.

The Jungler
May 26th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, it sort of surprised me to see a review of this with a 3.5 rating, but it really worked in the end. I have only heard two songs off this, the sorta good poppy Last Goodbye and the wonderfully beautiful Hallejuah, but I hope to listen to the whole thing soon.


Society Sellout
May 26th 2006


292 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Very nice objective review.

I agree that the album structure is slightly flawed but the compositional genius and perfection of every song(Even Lilac Wine is a very good song, but a little bland when compared to the others) makes this album for me. The fact that this album is hailed a classic and his only LP in his short time is truely a statement about how talented Jeff Buckley really was.


Bron-Yr-Aur
May 26th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Completely sh*tty review. I hate you. I vote 'Yes'. Good job.

Two-Headed Boy
May 26th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like what you're saying here. However, this album is fantastic.

Zebra
Moderator
May 26th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[quote=Zebra]I've never understood why this album is praised by so many people. Most of these songs would be good if they were a little bit shorter but he reallly drags them out. The title track and So Real are excellent songs but other then that there are no memorable songs.[/quote] That's what I posted in the other review. I enjoyed reading this review because it didn't praise the album like various reviews I've read across the internet, great job.


Syncratic
May 26th 2006


756 Comments


"Hallelujah" is one of the most amazing songs thtat I have ever heard.


FA
May 27th 2006


127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review. Grace is obviously incredible, but I still can't get over the Live at L'Olympia...

Dragon_Prince
May 27th 2006


272 Comments


Very good review

Sepstrup
May 27th 2006


1564 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lover, You Should Have Come Over doesn't stand up to the first half? It's something near the best song ever written...

"So Real" on the other hand, isn't that good. I really, really love Jeff Buckley, and strongly disagree with your rating, but your review was excellent.This Message Edited On 05.27.06

"Freshly Baked"
May 27th 2006


583 Comments


I don't think I've ever seen this get less than 4.5 or five stars anywhere, good review. I still have yet to check it out.

FA
May 28th 2006


127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=D4MVP]I don't think I've ever seen this get less than 4.5 or five stars anywhere, good review. I still have yet to check it out.[/quote]

That's because he's fantastic, and unfornutately when a singer/songwriter passes away sooner than they should of, their music only gets that much better...

Med57
Moderator
May 29th 2006


1001 Comments


Excellent review, and your revisionist views on this and Lateralus have been fun to read. I love this album so much, and think that Buckley's death was one of the saddest things in recent musical history, but this is probably the best non-adulatory review of Grace that I've ever read.

Hatshepsut
May 29th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Very nice review, excellent work. I still need to get my hands on this.

basscat23
May 30th 2006


3 Comments


is it true that "like a stone" by Audioslave was written for Jeff Buckley. I heard Cornell and buckley wer eroomate at one time

smokersdieyounger
May 31st 2006


672 Comments


I cant remember who said it, but someone said that everyone should be given a copy of this record once they are 13 years old.

Neoteric
May 31st 2006


3243 Comments


I like about three or four songs from this.

BringHomeTheBacon
May 31st 2006


248 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think the only songs not worthy of a 5/5 on this album are "Mojo Pin", "Lilac Wine", and "Corpus Christi Carol". I definitely see what you're saying about the production problems of this album. Nice review.

The Jungler
June 1st 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This isn't quite a 5 for me, but that might change in time.

chumpradio
July 24th 2006


4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review of a great cd.

Lover You Should Have Come Over and Hallelujah are my two favourite tracks.



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