Review Summary: Hypnotised by a strange delight...
One of the finest albums of the 1990s (I would put it up there with Pearl Jam’s Ten and Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?). The pain of youth and love are poured in with the first five brilliant tracks, especially Mojo Pin and Lilac Wine. Jeff Buckley’s astonishing and beautiful four octave range provides power, emotion and depth in the musical genres. The emotional intensity in Grace is unrivalled.
Mojo Pin, which slowly builds from the quiet opening into a devastating ballad of agonised love, is one of the album’s best songs. Buckley’s lyrics are simply sensational, as anyone who has heard this song would agree. The chorus’ desperate plea is just wonderful:
Don’t wanna wait for you, don’t wanna know
I’m blind and tortured, the white horses flow
Memories fire, rhythms fall slow
Black beauty, I love you so....
The title track Grace opens with an impressive rolling guitar and contains a blazing vocal mantra of a chorus ‘Wait in the fire’. Last Goodbye is, as you may have guessed, a break up song, yet it is a clean break up song. There’s no bitterness or ill-will, just an acceptance between two people that, despite the fact that they loved each other, they couldn’t be together.
Lilac Wine is more of a lament; a relationship that drifted apart or maybe even ended in death. Buckley sings it from the perspective of being drunk and regretful. Lilac Wine is possibly the best song on the album because of the passion and tenderness that it invokes.
Buckley’s version of Hallelujah, arguably the best version of the song, is a six minute ballad in which Buckley holds long, low notes and gentle high notes, showing off his wonderful abilities. The lyrics are absolutely mesmerising. Jeff Buckley makes Hallelujah his own. Superb. This is Buckley’s most famous song, and rightfully so.
Corpus Christi Carol is an unusual song. Buckley squeezes every last bit out of the high range of his voice to the point where he sounds like a medieval minstrel, singing about a hold in an orchard where a knight lies on a bed bleeding while his lover cries next to him. Doesn’t make sense, but is interesting to listen to in its novelty. The harder blues of Eternal Life is an impressive variation and the hypnotic Dream Brother is an excellent closer.
The union of music and lyrics on Grace is sensational. Every song offers something new, some other piece of Buckley’s soul. Absolutely wonderful.