Jeff Buckley – You and I
Posthumous releases are a source of constant controversy in music. They often split opinion between fans who consider them attempts by labels and family relatives of the deceased to financially gain from the hidden gems of the artist, and the fans who are in constant search of the aforementioned gems to feel a tragic sense of fulfillment from the listening experience. Jeff Buckley is one of the leading figures in terms of helping form this split opinion. Grace, Buckley’s sensational debut and final album, appears not to be enough for most fans and the amount of posthumous releases including live albums, covers and lost songs is vast despite his short career length.
The immediate issue with You and I – the latest in the collection of Jeff Buckley’s posthumous works – is that it only contains one unheard track, ‘Dream of You and I’, which isn’t even fully formed. Then again this is also the odd selling point of the album. Every track on the album was a demo recorded for Sony to display his ability and imagination in the lead up to recording Grace. You and I’s opener ‘Just Like A Woman’, is a beautiful, striking and heartfelt rendition that makes you think of Bob Dylan’s original in a completely different way.
The stripped back nature of the tracks, with every song just being Buckley with his guitar, is what gives the album its stamp of authenticity yet also makes it feel engagingly raw and occasionally fragile. The demo of ‘Grace’ has incredible pull despite its much thinned-out state compared to the album version. However, the presence of the only new song ‘Dream of You and I’ almost feels teasing.There are several guitar parts, a delicately whispered refrain, but no full composition, only a story describing what the song would have been about when finished, spoken atop what would have been the verses guitar part.
This album will be an easy sell to any large Jeff Buckley fan with most performances retaining the complex emotions that come with recordings of him, but critics of the release of the nature of Buckley’s posthumous releases will probably feel unconvinced at the necessity of yet another of its kind.