Jeff Buckley - So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley
So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley


First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2007, Volume 14, #6

Written by Melissa Stroh

Thu June 21, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT


Ten years after his tragic death, Jeff Buckley still is exceeding expectations. In honor of the legacy that he has left behind, Columbia Records has put together a new compilation of his best original songs — many of which were plucked from Grace, the only full-length recording that he completed before he died — as well as some well-chosen cover selections. Aside from a previously unreleased rendition of The Smiths’ I Know It’s Over, the rest of the material was culled from Buckley’s introductory EP Live at Sin-e (and its subsequently expanded reissue) as well as from his posthumously issued endeavor Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk. Among the 14 haunting tracks that fill So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley, it’s the live material that leaves behind the most lingering impression. In the end, Buckley can never be truly or wholly experienced in just one sitting. Instead, an intensive devotion to his lyrics, voice, and music is necessary. For those on a budget, So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley provides a solid point from which to begin.

Ironically, So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley begins with Last Goodbye, which does the job of both celebrating Buckley’s genius as a songwriter as well as solidifying the sad fact of his death. Without providing enough time to settle, Lover, You Should’ve Come Over slowly drifts into the listener’s ears without warning. The haunting imagery of a rain-soaked funeral weighs heavily, while the desperation in Buckley’s voice, as it wafts from the speakers, is almost tangible. As the set progresses, the weighted subject matter continues to extend the storyline. Forget Her paints a portrait of an attempt to elude a former lover. The eccentric Eternal Life highlights Buckley’s musical passion and ingenuity, particularly during its climax when he desperately screams, "Where is love? Where is happiness? What is life? Where is peace?"

If the listener isn’t depressed over Buckley’s death and the eerily coordinated song lyrics, So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley continues to spiral downward into darker storylines. Buckley’s ability to create fantastical tales is not overlooked in tracks like Dream Brother, which fits in well with the rest of the album. Not only does the subject matter flow effortlessly throughout the set, but the passion and conviction of his vocals also are immeasurable. From the first gut-wrenching word of Last Goodbye to the final battered phrase of I Know It’s Over, it’s apparent that Buckley wasn’t short on fervor for his music; he simply was short on time. No matter how ironically the songs are arranged, So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley makes sense. Even the casual listener can feel the immensity of the life that was lost when Buckley died, and the music reinforces this. Fortunately, every note, every word, every breath that was caught on tape is able to be heard again and again for all eternity. starstarstarstar

So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2007 The Music Box