Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jeff Buckley - Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk (1998)

An outstanding album (of sorts) from a star who died too soon 

Critically acclaimed Singer Songwriter and Guitarist Jeff Buckley (1966-1997) released only one EP and one full-length album Grace before his untimely death. Buckley drowned in Memphis in May of 1997 while working on his next album, tentatively titled My Sweetheart the Drunk. Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk compiles all of the raw demos and completed studio tracks that Buckley recorded with his band prior to his unfortunate death. 

Of the 20 tracks on Sketches... many are clearly rough demos but there are others which indicate that Buckley was recording a fantastic album. Buckley’s voice was a rare instrument, and it sounds as though he was testing its limits on these tracks. That voice takes the spotlight on the a cappella "You and I," one of a handful of dark, haunting tracks on this stellar album. 

The darkest moment comes on "Nightmares By the Sea." It’s a song that is sure to please the morbidly curious, as Buckley sings "I’ve loved so many times/ And I’ve drowned them all." On "Everybody Here Wants You," Buckley sounds like an old torch singer with an odd falsetto. One can only wonder if this little experiment would ever have seen the light of day if Buckley had lived. The set closes with "Satisfied Mind," the song which apparently was played at Buckley’s funeral. Just as the song summed up Buckley’s unfinished life, it also sums up this unfinished album. We are once again left wondering what might have been. 


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