27 years ago, Jeff Buckley released one full-length album before he died tragically at the age of 30. The stupendous Grace was that album and his legacy went on to become a worldwide phenomenon. It remains a beacon of its era and one of the single greatest albums ever from one of the single greatest voices ever committed to tape.
When Columbia Records signed Jeff Buckley, he was performing cover songs at a small Irish club in New York called Sine. Within months, he formed a band, found a producer, wrote seven original songs and rehearsed those songs along with three cover songs for Grace, his debut album and only official full-length album release, released August 23rd 1994.
The very definition of timeless, Grace somehow worked in 1994, yet it was the antithesis of the time when grunge ruled. But think about it harder - there isn't an era before or since that it wouldn't have worked.
Buckley was the son of experimental folk singer Tim Buckley, who also died tragically at 28 when Jeff was very young. Somehow, his penchant for experimenting spilt over onto Grace and his love of Led Zeppelin, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone and Van Morrison shines through. He and his potent backing band ended up pulling off some things no other young singer/songwriter would dare attempt.
Four proper singles were released from the album - 'Grace', 'Last Goodbye', 'So Real' and 'Eternal Life' - but it's their coexistence with and handful of unconventional covers that makes Grace work as a whole. Like, what on earth possessed him to record the bleak albeit beautiful standard 'Lilac Wine'? And how does he make it work?!
His version of 'Hallelujah' now transcends the popularity of any other version, including the original from Leonard Cohen. His version of 'Corpus Christi Carol', based on Janet Baker's version, is dedicated to a childhood friend who introduced him to the song.
27 years later, Buckley's legacy remains untainted and many posthumous releases have followed hinging off a fascination Grace set, begging the question "what would he have done next" more than any other artist. Wherever he might've gone next, it would not have been boring.
JEFF BUCKLEY'S GRACE IS WAXX LYRICAL'S JANUARY 2021 RECORD OF THE MONTH. JOIN THE CLUB