With GRACE, his first full-length statement as a bandleader, songwriter/guitarist Jeff Buckley sets out upon a road less travelled, avoiding the safe and predictable in favor of the ecstatic and the personal.
Not that such obvious influences as the Beatles and Led Zeppelin have disappeared from this young talent's music. Buckley's voice is an exquisite, malleable instrument, and from his daring vaults into the upper registers to his long, enraptured middle-register ornaments and moans, he suggests the breakthroughs of a young Robert Plant or Van Morrison.
Songs like "The Last Goodbye" (with its coy slide intro and ragaish string backgrounds) and "Lover, You Should've Come Over" (with its late Beatles harmonies and Edith Piaf vocal ornaments) are powerful evocations of failing relationships ("too young to hold on, and too old to just break free and run"). "Lilac Wine" and "Hallelujah" feature his glassy, translucent guitar and poignant vocals in mystical, folkish settings, while "Dream Brother" achieves an almost Doors-like melancholy. Elsewhere, Buckley showcases his new band's power on "Mojo Pin" and "Eternal Life", which draw upon blues imagery and metaphors to create a subtle, hard-rocking atmosphere.