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Revisiting Jeff Buckley - Grace

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

Jeff Buckley’s Grace turned 26 yesterday and the album still stands as one of the most moving, influential and aspirational albums ever for musicians and fans alike. With Jeff Buckley passing away at the young age of 30 in an awful drowning accident, the album has an undercurrent of melancholy, nostalgia and tragedy.

It’s very hard to pick out a favourite song or part of this album. Grace is 57 minutes of musical perfection. Choosing a highlight is akin to trying to pick apart Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird or Scorsese’s Goodfellas – pointless. Why not enjoy the entire thing for what it is; an artist delivering perfection.

When you hit play and you hear that faint introductory sound of Mojo Pin seeping through, it becomes abundantly clear almost instantly that you’re about to listen to something special. Shortly followed by the stepping up of his vocals and guitar, it’s beautiful.

Then there is title track Grace. Reading what Jeff Buckley says about the word 'grace' is poetic in itself. To paraphrase him, he says that somebody holding the characteristic of grace, a quality he admires, brings an understanding to life’s challenges and gives people the patience to not destroy things or act too hastily foolish. It’s hard to disagree. If you can hold grace – you become elevated as a person. This song has grace and is uplifting and triumphant.

The album on the whole feels dramatic and operatic at times. It has the melancholy of Radiohead and the musical nuances of folk artists such as Nick Drake and his father Tim Buckley.

Last Goodbye and Eternal Life seem closer to the grungier links in the nineties with Eternal Life being a welcome change in pace and lyric (it seems a social comment piece) as we race towards the end of the album while there are intimate moments delving into heartbreak, pain, death and loss in So Real, Lover You Should’ve Come Over and Forget Her.

You can get lost in reverie during Dream Brother’s guitar sequence, bringing us back down before the closing track Forget Her which encapsulates the entire album in one song, a great closer.

We also have two covers on the album; Lilac Wine and Hallelujah. Lilac Wine highlights his vocals and his ability to elevate an original… and then we have Hallelujah. An absolute masterpiece and by far the best version of a song that seems to have been covered to death this millennia. The picking, the plucking, the pinching and the working of the guitar in general is only equaled by Buckley’s voice. To do both at the same time is just showing off. I love Leonard Cohen but this song is better than the original. It’s perfect.

The more you delve into the album, the more haunting it becomes. The lyrics, coupled with his untimely death make it feel that the album was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s stunning, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, soulful, insightful and a showcase of Buckley’s incredible talent.

I selfishly wish he wasn’t taken from us so early. Grace was Jeff Buckley painting some painful pictures while holding himself with the utmost Grace. I hope he was able feel immense pride for this, he should.

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