You And I

Jeff Buckley

Columbia Records, 2016

http://www.jeffbuckley.com

REVIEW BY: Ludwik Wodka

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/13/2016

With Jeff Buckley tragically dying at the peak of his career as he was preparing his second studio album for release, he was immortalized as a meteoric talent that flashed briefly, yet brilliantly across the musical firmament. His career has been thoroughly documented, and the numerous posthumous releases have already scoured most of the best material from the vaults.  

The recently rediscovered recordings compiled for my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 You And I give us a snapshot of Buckley’s performances at that critical point in his career when he had become a must-see live attraction in the NYC coffeehouses, right as he was about to be signed to a major label (Columbia Records would prevail as the winner in the bidding war over Buckley). The recordings capture Buckley alone in the studio, accompanied only by his guitar – no band, no crowd. In this setting, we can hear the subtlety in his performance both in his vocals. Not known to most is that Buckley was also a highly accomplished guitarist, though this is often overshadowed by his vocals (best heard on “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying”).

Buckley’s selection of covers gives the dimensions of his eclectic palette, reaching from delta blues, soul, folk, and various flavors of rock. His interpretations of “Calling You,” “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side,” and “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” are brilliant, but in spite of his powerful and dynamic singing, “Just Like A Woman” and “Night Flight” feel overwrought. Roy Orbison famously composed songs to suit his voice and range. Buckley must have found himself in a similar quandary; some of the songs he covers seem to burst at the seams when he tries them on.

The clarity of the recording clears the air for his subtle and nuanced performance, making this release worthy to stand on its own. However, it is still a collection of cover songs, and as such, pales in comparison to the original compositions found on Grace and My Sweetheart The Drunk. More than anything, it helps to delineate Buckley’s developmental arc as an artist, and gives his most ardent fans a bit more insight into the artistry of Buckley’s all-too-brief career.

Rating: A-

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© 2016 Ludwik Wodka and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.