Jeff Buckley

Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk

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Jeff Buckley was a mess of contradictions: a perfectionist who believed in spontaneity, a man who was at once humble and vain, a musician who shunned his father's tumultuous legacy while creating one of his own. These are some of the reasons why he took his time writing and recording the material for his second album, laboring over many songs for months at a time. Given such painstaking methods, it shouldn't have been a surprise that recording was an equally fastidious process. Buckley recorded enough material for an album with producer Tom Verlaine, but deciding that the results weren't quite right, he scrapped them and moved to Memphis to record the album again. He reworked a few songs as home demos as he prepared to cut the album, but it was never made -- Buckley died in a tragic drowning accident before entering the studio. As a way to enlarge his legacy, his mother and record label rounded up the majority of the existing unreleased recordings, releasing them as the double-disc set Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk. Excepting a few awkward moments and middle-eights, it's hard to see why Buckley rejected the Verlaine productions that make up disc one. The material isn't necessarily a progression from Grace; it's more like a stripped-down, edgier take on the sweeping, jazz-tinged goth folk-rock that made the first album so distinctive. Neither the nearly finished first disc nor the homemade demos and re-recordings on the second disc offer any revelations, but that's not necessarily a disappointment. Sketches adds several wonderful songs to his catalog, offering further proof of his immense talent. And that, of course, is what makes the album as sad as it is exciting.

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