Jeff Buckley - Diamonds and Rust: Grace

Bill Cummings 02/02/2004

Sons of legendary singer-songwriters are traditionally crippled by the expectation to produce the musical genius of their more illustrious fathers - witness Julian Lennon's awful pop of the mid eighties or the horrendous tripe served up by Jacob Dylan and his MOR rock group the Wallflowers. Jeff Buckley was the exception to this rule: Tim, his father, a brilliant folk singer-songwriter from yesteryear, not only informed his work but gave him his perfectionism, drive and talent that makes Grace one of the greatest albums of the nineties.

For years Jeff struggled to create the perfect document of his ideas. Grace emerged after failed starts and years busking and playing empty bar rooms. The genius of the work he produced on Grace has only matured and flowered like a delicate rose in the years since his death, as if every moment of his life had led up to that point. The album crystallises the beauty of his soaring falsetto, the majesty of his guitar work and the stunning melodies that shine like gleaming pearls and sink into your soul for days - no, years.

The record begins with the glory of the opening bars of Mojo Pin, the guitars tumbling like drops from heaven and that voice heartbroken and shattered. Then to Grace, a beautiful musical achievement full of stops and starts, layers of guitar and beautiful lyrics. This is a man that knows what its like to feel love and to feel pain. Last Goodbye confirms this sense of loss and tragedy from its stunning opening chiming to the soaring melody and heartbroken lyrics - “This is our last goodbye/ Just hear this and then I'll go/You gave me more to live for/More than you'll ever know”. The album, crucially, is not afraid to change tone - the traditional hymnlike qualities of “Lilac Wine” and the stunning “Corpus Christi Carol” confirm Jeff Buckley as a man with the voice of a fallen angel, and the heart of a sensitive poet.