Jeff Buckley
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In Fashion : Baltimore Sun : Huh : Spin : B-Side
Toronto Sun : Q. Magazine : Selina's : Austin Chronicle

In Fashion - Spring 1994
Live at Sin-é - by Jeff Rabhan

Claiming no allegiance to a particular style, genre, or influence, Jeff Buckley is quite possibly the most uniquely talented artist making music today. His high, clear voice, reminiscent of Robert Plant, sings plaintively about off-beat relationships and city life over deft guitar work. Never lacking the confidence or creativity to explore old covers with new arrangements, Live at Sin-e offers a 4-song teaser of live hypnotic passion recorded between Buckley, his electric guitar and an intimate audience. Impossible to describe, and even harder to pigeonhole, Buckley offers a little something for everyone. Until his first full-length album hits in early summer, my CD player will remain on repeat.

Baltimore Sun - 9/9/94
GRACE - by J.D. Constantine

Because he's the son of the late Tim Buckley, it's tempting to expect Jeff Buckley's recordings to recall the jazzy meanderings of his father. Instead the songs he presents on Grace evoke nothing so much as folky experimentalism of mid-period Led Zeppelin. Like Led Zep, Buckley is equally fond of the ethereal and the heavy, moving naturally from angelic purity to twisted demonic intensity. But Buckley does the mighty Zep one better by managing to evoke the two extremes simultaneously. At times, that takes the album to giddy heights, as on "Mojo Pin" or "Lilac Wine," songs that vividly convey the kind of passion Jane's Addiction only alluded to; elsewhere, it opens emotional depths that lend a harrowing intensity to such songs as "So Real." Whatever his approach, though, Buckley's choirboy voice and razor-edged guitar make for a stunning combination, one most listeners won't soon forget.

Huh - 10/94
Jeff Buckley - Grace - by Bob Gulla

Jeff Buckley's voice is an anomaly in modern rock. Part unpolished, operatic alto, part passionate screamer, his vocals absorb the extreme contours of his songs the way a skier takes black diamond bumps. Not since Robert Plant has a singer wrung such unfiltered emotion from his material. After a stunning solo EP, Buckley surrounds himself with a trio on Grace, his first full-length record. The grooves scatter in a dozen different directions -- jazzy shuffles, folky blues, and flat-out Zeppelin rockers -- but above it all, it's Buckley's voice that demands and ultimately captures our attention.

Spin - October 1994
Jeff Buckley - Grace - by Byron Coley

One of my favorite sorts of music has no real generic handle by which it can be carried into the marketplace. Informed by jazz, rock, and folk traditions, it is not specifically aligned with any of them, vibrating in the air like a mahogany hen's egg held in the grip of unseen forces. Performers capable of producing this stuff include Fred Neil, Tim Buckley, Michael Chapman, Karen Dalton, Roy Harper, Tommy Flanders, Cassandra Wilson, Tim Hardin, Bob Brown, and others. One new name to add to this list is Jeff Buckley.

Jeff is the son of the late master singer Tim Buckley, and one assumes (from the fact that his bio doesn't mention his father) that theirs was not a close relationship. On his debut, Live at Sin-e, whenever Jeff's singing became too similar to his dad's, he'd head off into that quivery direction that Robert Plant used to, singing about things like "Silver and golden carrots / Fighting for a dead dog's love." This is an incredibly annoying tendency, but it's one that Buckley seems to be utilizing less and less.

As evidenced by Grace (and a great promo EP called Peyote Radio Theatre), Buckley is feeling a bit more self-confident these days. Some of this may come from the grounding his material has been given by the extraordinary guitarist Gary Lucas, with whom he works on some tunes here. Another layer of luxuriously creative loam is put down by the arrangements of Karl Berger (best known as an avant-garde vibraphonist), and Buckley seems to flourish in this particular garden.

The songs on Grace range from the perverted pop moves of "So Real" (a composition that could have been lifted from Big Star's Third), to a pigeon-wide cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," to the exquisite tongue-pressure of "Dream Brother" (a masterpiece of pseudo East-meets-West formalism). Obnoxious tendrils of Plantism surface here and there, but Buckley follows his natural vocal inclinations more often than he tries to subvert them.

If Buckley continues to evolve in the direction that Grace indicates, only good things can result. Perhaps he can find a worthy musical doppelgänger (as his father did, in Lee Underwood) and convince Karl Berger to actually play vibes on his next album. If he can do these two things, it won't be too long before he's ushered into the halls of greatness. Perhaps then he and his father can make peace.

B-Side magazine - Sept/Oct '95
Jeff Buckley @ The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA - by Sandra Garcia

"Jeff should be headlining." "Jeff should be touring on his own." "What's he doing opening for her?" "I saw Jeff the last two times he played." "I think I'll stay for a few of Juliana Hatfield's songs." "When's he gonna come out with a new album?"

These were some of the comments overheard in the long snaking line that wrapped about the theater where Jeff Buckley would soon open for Juliana Hatfield. I felt very sorry for Juliana Hatfield for two reasons: one: it sounded like she would be losing half of the audience three songs into her set and two: would you want to be opening up for someone with the undeniable naturally flawless talent of Jeff Buckley? Hell no.

The fairly orderly, slightly older audience jammed the upstairs drinking section, many unable to see a thing due to the crush. It was their loss: the all ages section downstairs proved to be perfectly safe. You could stand and live. No moshing, no body surfing... How nice to stand close to an act without being kicked in the head. How delightful. How novel! The women in the audience were there to check Jeff out for more than his songwriting skills, judging from their swooning reaction to him when he finally brought his slim form on-stage. The guys were there to check out if his band could sound half as fine as they did on record. Jeff's low-key demeanor fit the respectful crowd until he whisked into his first song.

That low-key demeanor facade evaporated in record time.

On his album Grace Jeff reaches moments of mayhem, of passion, of annoying yodeling. At times too precious and too clean, Grace doesn't begin to match how this man burns on-stage. No way. On-stage he tossed away everything except the bleeding passion. Focused and fiery, Jeff exuded an eerie stillness at his center: the cliche eye of the storm came to mind many a time. He stood very still except for his hands working his guitar, but everything poured forth from his throat: the three L's: longing, lust and love saturated the air with a heady presence. The receptive in the audience began to sway and quiver, but the yuppies who were only familiar with Jeff from the local AAA station were astounded by his fiery delivery. They admired him but only clapped politely, except when he offered them the wistful minor chord single 'Last Goodbye.' Then they danced the dance of those who don't get out much: I swear Jeff started smiling at this. He totally baffled them with 'Eternal Life''s guitar brutality (where he reminds me so much of James Hall I can't believe it...) and when Jeff lashed out with the pure authentic wail of 'So Real', I realized I had been selling this man short. Yes, I recognized his talent on album but never realized what he could truly do with it. What a magnificent weapon. Can you say converted?

His band, comprised of guitarist Michael Tighe, bassist Mick Grondahl and drummer Matt Johnson, complimented Jeff's tremendous skill with their own, not letting him steal all the grace.

Jeff's subtle banter poked fun at himself: when he undid his shirt due to the mounting heat factor he ruefully jested he needed to do sit-ups. Judging from the reaction of one woman next to me I think she'd like to hold his ankles.

My triple AAA station would stand for Astounding, Audacious and Amazing. Jeff Buckley fits into this category with a few dozen adjectives trailing behind.

After his next album he won't be opening for anyone anymore.

Toronto Sun - May 27, 1995
"Anti-Hero, Anti-Show" - By Jamie Kastner

Last night at the Music Hall was the night of the pipsqueak anti-hero. You can just imagine the non-argument that didn't go on between introspective troubadour Jeff Buckley and diminutive grungette Juliana Hatfield before the tour.

"Look ... um, Jeff? I don't really wanna headline."

"Look, Juli, I'm like ... no. You have to be at the head of the line because ... I'm really short and I don't like people hearing my music."

"But, Jeff, I'm not exactly Big Bird either. I just really, like, play for myself and if anyone else wants to listen, that's their problem."

"Juli, I'm like, ditto."

It's a theory anyway. The supporting evidence: two apologetic sets that were painfully successful at under-doing one another.

First came Buckley, which didn't mean he was the opener, but at the same time, far be it for him to head anyone's line. He's still touring on the strength of last year's album, Grace.

Intellectually, his set was brilliant. With sophisticated rhythm, harmonies and counterpoint constantly meshing Buckley's soaring voice and jagged guitar to his three-man band, it had more in common with a chamber ensemble than a rock group. Bouncing freely around the stage, whenever the spirit so moved him, he kept as close a control over the dynamics as if he had a finger on a group volume knob.

But he remained aloof. Scarcely addressing the crowd between his punk/soul opus, he seemed to have chosen to forego human relations in hopes of establishing a spiritual bond with the crowd instead through the frank baring of his soul in song.

Didn't work.

Next, Hatfield's band trudged on, parading a particular slouch look best described as Golf-Caddy-On-Day-Off.

Kinda describes their tone too. From her opening squeaks - "Hi, my name is Juliana, this is my band ... thanks a lot for, um ... sticking around" - to their first of many guitar heavy romps, the pervading idea was still "I'm really not a rock star, not really."

This brand of anti-communication nevertheless built a certain rapport with the crowd while simultaneously undermining Buckley's silent vibe.

On the other hand, having such deft, if cerebral, musicians as Buckley's crew as your opening act - sorry, act who happened to go on before you - couldn't but make Hatfield's quirky but repetetive grunge trip sound like kindergarten.

The implicit question from both was: "Why are you listening to us?"

Next time we'll answer with our feet.

Q. Magazine - March 1995 (from The Tivoli, Dublin, January 14. 1995)
Jeff Buckley: A Cool and Clever Cat - by Bill Prince

It's probably just as well that pop starts cannot be assembled at a pick'n'mix counter, or there would be dozens of Jeff Buckleys already: the faultless lineage (son of troubled Troubador Tim - but you knew that already); a voice that leaves most other singers trailing in its quicksilver slipstream; looks that would give the young Paul Newman a canter for his coinage; all gift-wrapped in the kind of critical acclaim that, in normal circumstances, can usually be relied upon to take a hefty detour around such seemingly mutually assured seduction.

Paradoxically, the statistics are, on paper at least, less thrilling; Buckley's debut album, Grace, has sold a little over 30,000 copies in the UK since its release last August, and tonight's European tour-opener at the medium sized Tivoli Theatre would suggest only a relatively minor leap in stature since last summer's 400-capacity Whelan's show.

Then there are those who will remind us that at the same age (28), Buckley Sr was already dead, having recorded eight albums of artistic affluence. Yet it's just the slow-burning build-up that seems to have got everyone so transfixed, evidenced by the countless low-key, living-room-sized gigs the solo Buckley has played over the last few years (documented on the four-track, independently released EP, Live At Sin-è), or the ineffable confidence that prompted him to assemble a band just three weeks before the recording of his major label debut. A debut, furthermore, that belies its stall-setting status to revel in its own joyous sweep, the sort of reckless daring that allows a clutch of idiosyncratic covers (Leonard Cohen, Benjamin Britten, and, after an anti-fashion, Elkie Brooks) to rub shoulders with swooning hymns to the fault-lines to which the path of true love must forever yield. Here, surely, was an artist for once seriously prepared to rattle the bars of his own, albeit gilded, cage...

Unsurprisingly, Jeff Buckley is proud of Grace, but shrugs simply of its end-of year-poll-winning positions: "There's no way you can predict the effect of an album." His is a cavalier attitude fuelled by Marianis Trench-deep reserves of self-confidence. His own horizons are not hard to fathom: limitless would be the word that springs most swiftly to mind, if only for the way he'll take a simple enquiry after the health of his, frankly, hoarse voice: "sometimes you have to hammer it into shape. There's a balance between being protectve with it and being wanton and brutish", or the way he'll essay a whole stream of theories that call upon Maria Callas, Robert Plant and Soungarden's Chris Cornell as witnesses to the debilitating effects of "high Cs and all that stuff. It's just fucking havoc".

Buckley is equally sanguine about the possibilities that the steady growth of the Grace fan club may well soon afford. Enormodomes must surely beckon.

"I love small places," he counters. "We can't really afford to do them right now, but in the future I'd really like to do, like, residencies. Two or maybe three nights in each city, in really small clubs.

"The only way I can see of changing a giant stadium into a really intimate space'" he adds, "is by writing, like Hey Jude, where everybody knows it and it goes right through you. So the writing would have to change. But I like the environment of a small gig better. People come to clubs to drink and to be with friends, to get laid and fall in love, or maybe to forget and even get depressed. It's an emotional kind of place. But people go to stadiums to eat hot dogs and get beer and buy souvenir T-shirts. It's not the same thing."

Directly adjoining the tin-roofed playhouse (now showing: Happy Birthday Dear Alice, "a hilarious new comedy by Bernard Farrell"), The Tivoli's consequently post-thesp Saturday night stage time of 1am does little to dissuade the hard-drinking denizens of Dublin. In a city where the cab drivers are as likely to be grooving to Ry Cooder & Ali Farka Toure as they are arguing along to talk radio, there's little point in drawing conclusions from the staggeringly heterogeneous crowd. Clearly, music fans all, there is nevertheless a hard core at the front who loudly proclaim themselves to be disciples. That said, the unheralded arrival of Buckley and his band comprising old friends, only recently tested in environments like this (drummer matt Johnson, guitarist Michael Tighe and bassist Mick Grondahl - as unfamiliar with the ugly stick as their leader, it should be said) goes unnoticed until - house DJ finally silenced - the refusal of Buckley's amplifier to spark into life eventually draws gazes to the stage, eliciting the first of tonight's many "ooohs" as his taut, almost feral frame settles, unfazed by this potentially embarrassing false start, on the edge of the drum riser.

Power restored, the band launch into Dream Brother, the fabled paean to its Buckley père, although according to its author concerning his close friend, ex-Fishbone keyboards and trombone player Chris Dowd ("I just wanted to sing about a man instead of a girl"). Immediately, Buckley's meuzzin wail is disturbing the rafters and the audience is already going hipswayingly apeshit at all this wobbly, warbling witchcraft.

So Real is just like the record, only louder: no mean feat considering the serpentine, voluptuous sound of the album and the strictly conventional line-up of two guitars, bass and drums upon which the Buckley voice is currently prostrated. So its is with The Last Goodbye and Eternal Life: the latter of all intents and purposes Helter Skelter re-cast with the metallic precision of grunge. This,and "a new one", What Will You Say (coincidenetly written by the former Fishboning friend), point to a possible firming up of Buckley's predominantly eerie, edgy canon; signaling too, perhaps, a resolve not to be forerver cast as the unkempt angel with the gossamer vocals.

Nor does Buckley limit himself to merely showboating with that flummoxing vocal range of his, instead often taking the very tenor of his voice and casting it off in all directions, his head shaking so violently as to raise doubts about the long-tern effects this style might have on that blessed larynx.

Lilac Wine, the oddity in Grace's already oddball trio of covers, is in stark contrast, delivered in such hushed tones as to be effectively drowned out by the audience "shhhhh'-ing the drinkers at the bar. Mojo Pin and Grace both rage with the vocal triumphalism of someone for whom failure seems to hold no special terror, while as if to counter these exterions (and prefaced with a warning "I'm nursing a cold"), the headily spiralling Lover, You Should Have Come Over opens out of a smouldering, gravely register.

It's a little after 2am when Buckley returns alone for the solitary encore, finding the wide open spaces in John Cale's reading of Cohen's Hallelujah before, and, just as the voice is finaly grounded ("I can't sing any more") calling a halt to the proceedings with a graceful arc into the delighted crowd.

Upstairs afterwards, a phalanx of Euro rock hacks swiftly encircle the man in the mouldering fake fur coat and busily feed him Grace CDs to be autographed. Eventually, a close female friend offers an escape route to the night, which the shattered and coughing Buckley gladly takes. How much longer he'll be allowed such an easy exit from the clammering corporate rock maw remains to be seen...

Rise to grace: Jeff Buckley, Selinas, Friday March 1
by Sacha Molitorisz

In a very short time, Jeff Buckley has ascended to the heavens, deified by an appreciative Australian audience.

When the diminutive American singer-songwriter arrived here last August, the adulation was immediate; and not unexpected. On his debut record, 1994's Grace , Buckley exhibited a near-impossible combination of talents: the voice of an angel, the guitar-playing of a virtuoso, and 10 complex, beautiful songs that seemed to have been written by a man who carried the muses around in his shirt pocket.

And when he stepped on stage Buckley revealed a fourth element: a stupefying charisma born of his dangerous good looks and introverted vulnerability. On stage Buckley was the same but much more than on record: emotional, powerful, seductive, passionate, gentle. He proved a concussion of opposites - from the crashing, anthem-like wail of Eternal Life to the tenuous ache of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - who seduced his audience with artistry.

Of Buckley's August concert at Metro, Bruce Elder wrote in the Herald: "[It was] a performance of great power and integrity from an immensely gifted performer. As the capacity audience drifted off into the night, there was a feeling that this was one of those performances that will be long remembered and treasured."

I was equally impressed by one of those August shows at the Phoenician Club - Buckley gave me goose bumps: the true sign of a touching show. After this debut, the hype snowballed, and by the time Buckley returned last month his three Enmore Theatre shows sold out promptly. Even there, despite inferior acoustics and a stifling sense of expectation, Buckley triumphed.

Throughout, he made it clear he was enjoying Australia as much as it was enjoying him. So when he announced one final date, for Selinas - a farewell concert - it would inevitably be a night tinged with sadness. Buckley was flying out the following day - ending his two-pronged introduction to Australia. And, heightening the melancholy, later in the evening Buckley announced his drummer, Matt Johnson, had decided that tonight would be his last show with the band.

But Buckley started by making light of it all. "So that's it," Buckley said before he had played a note. "Until the next time. Because there will be a next time." The crowd cheered. "The Reunion tour. Or Jeffapoolooza. Or Jeff's Addiction."

And, thankfully, when he started playing, the performance was tight and mesmerising. Buckley had become voracious, attacking his songs from Grace.

Between-song silences were punctuated by shouts of "We love you, Jeff," or, more to the point, "You're sex on a stick." "I love you too," he returned. He thanked his support acts throughout the tour. Earlier in the evening, Cactus Child had been polished and varied, warming up the audience's goose bumps for the headline act.

But now it was midnight and Buckley was playing with amazing energy. And, through Mojo Pin and Last Goodbye, he was revealing he was no rote performer. He was playing by feel, adapting as he progressed, with markedly different versions of the songs he had brought here six months earlier. The show built for an hour, until Eternal Life provided a frenetic climax: to finish it off, Buckley struck his final chord and let himself topple backwards into the crowd.

The second half of the show, unfortunately, was less focussed. Bassplayer Mick Grondahl sang a song, one of several less familiar tunes. And Buckley exhausted his repertoire: he wanted to keep playing, to keep entertaining for this last show.

Still, there were those precious moments. For his encore, Hallelujah, Buckley sat behind the kit and played the kick drum as he sang and strummed. It was ambitious, silly and beautiful all at once. Not taking himself too seriously, he managed an unusual and appealing improvisation.

Two songs later, after two hours on stage, Buckley departed, but only after he had created and revealed an ephemeral fragility in his songs and in himself. It had been a varied and beautiful show.

Austin Chronicle - June 20, 1997.
by Melanie Haupt

"Every once in a while, humanity is blessed with an artist with a strange and beautiful voice, who drinks deeply from the well of human emotion and offers us a generous sip with each new lyric. Jeff Buckley was one of those artists.

I grieve for him, along with thousands of others around the world who have been woven together with the golden thread of his seraph's voice and caressed gently by his music, which cuts to the heart and carves out a place in which to dwell forever.

His passing leaves us with cherished memories of his wry smile, sweet laugh, unique wit, and his amazing gift for creating music that transcends all boundaries (who else can scat to Van Morrison?). His final gift to us is a new appreciation for life - how precious and tenuous it is, slipping away with only a breath.

Jeff, your precious soul will be sorely missed on this planet. Will I ever again listen to "Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin" without shedding many tears? I hope not.

Vaya con Dios. Te amo."

Mojo Pin