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Jeff Buckley – Grace

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Grace (1994)

Grace (1994)

Right now I need a break. I’ve been writing a paper that’s due tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m., and I’ve only seriously begun to research it a couple hours ago. I almost have enough quotes and info to begin the paper (about tactics during the First Crusade, in case you’re interested, though you’re probably not).

Right now, I’m listening to Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible for the first time and I’m really digging it. Review material sometime in the next two weeks.

Modest Mouse show coming ever closer – hopefully I’m not let down and they remember to play some of the oldies!

Anyway, I would like to take a look at Grace by Jeff Buckley. If you’re reading this review, then chances are you already know and love Jeff Buckley. His only album, Grace, is hailed by many to be a nineties classic. For good reason – it is a nineties classic, and no knowledge of nineties music is complete without at least listening to Grace at least once, recognizing it’s importance.

Though Grace is Buckley’s only album, he probably influenced more artists than anyone else in the nineties. Matt Bellamy of Muse cites his falsetto to be inspired by Buckley. Thom Yorke of Radiohead made the recording for “Fake Plastic Trees,” possibly Radiohead’s saddest song, after hearing Jeff Buckley live. Chris Cornell was close friends with Buckley, and they gave inpsiration to each other. Many other artists cite Grace as a top 5 desert island album.

Then there are some who say it’s highly overrated – that Jeff Buckley had little songwriting ability and had to cover others’ songs, adding his particular flavor with his legendary voice. Bullocks to that. Buckley’s Grace is chocked full of his great original stuff – “Grace,” “Last Goodbye,” “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over, “Eternal Life,” and “Dream Brother.” Each of these songs stands on its own as Buckely’s genius songcraft.

Probably what Grace is most famous for is Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” This is just one of those songs (when sung by Buckley) where you just have to stop and listen, because you are completely powerless not to. I reamember buying Grace and skipping to this track immediately. After one listen, it was over – I put it on repeat and listened to it over and over for a good two hours.

By the time “Hallelujah” had about 30 plays on my iTunes, I decided to expand to the rest of the album, and each of the songs slowly built their play counts to rival “Hallelujah.”

As you can see, Grace shouldn’t just be listened to because it’s important. It is that, but it’s so much more. It’s amazing music, period. It’s a straight-up rock album for the most part, but the songs are highly complicated, using unconvential chords for pop music while retaining a powerful sense of melody. The lyrics are usually deep and sensitive, and though I’m not a girl, the lyrics to “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” are almost enough to make me swoon.

Songwriting aside, the main trademark of this album is Buckley’s angelic voice (and I don’t say angelic lightly).  It is literally the most beautiful and perfect voice to grace the world of music. It was a shame he died so young.

Grace should be in anyone’s collection. I cannot see anyone not liking this album (even though they’re likely out there).

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