Jeff Buckley: Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk: Pitchfork Review
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Cover Art Jeff Buckley
Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk
Rating: 8.9

Four and a half years passed between the releases of Jeff Buckley's critically- acclaimed debut full- length Grace and this album, which would become his swan song. In that time, Buckley assembled demos and a series of unpolished tracks for a record he'd hoped to call My Sweetheart The Drunk, but his tragic drowning in the Summer of 1997 brought those plans to an abrupt halt.

Or so we thought. Buckley's family and Columbia Records took a brave step forward by allowing these unmastered recordings to be released almost one year after Buckley's death. Thankfully, the tracks on Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk are not overdubbed. Buckley's family insisted that the recordings reflect the unfinished state in which Buckley left them. Even outtakes and unreleased tracks from Grace and Buckley's EP Live at Sin- were not included in this collection. This two- disc set is intended to be the listeners' glimpse into the mind of the musician.

Buckley's sharp technical musicianship and his soft, tenor vocals (which are at times both heavily pleading and refreshingly mocking), are solidly present on this record. And while these songs remain unfinished, they stand firmly on their own. "Back In NYC" is a perfect example of a piece that's as captivating as some of the best tracks on Grace, and "Nightmares By The Sea" features a haunting introduction which sets the stage for one of the most soulful and tense love songs on this collection.

Without the elements of heavy production, these works appear stark and naked, drawing more attention to Buckley's captivating creativity. But the main element is that voice-- there's nothing like it in the world. Buckley's lilting and weaving vocals possessed the ability to weep and laugh simultaneously and they could transform the simplest phrase into a deeply emotional episode.

Sketches main objective, though, is to recall the image of the musician as an artiste. Buckley's ability to sustain such a high level of intensity and passion is unparalleled in modern music, and current songwriters could clearly learn a lesson from Buckley in this regard. Granted, two discs worth of such a deeply emotional artist can be a bit overwhelming at times, but songs like "The Sky Is A Landfill" and "Morning Theft" remind the world why Buckley will be remembered as one of the most talented songwriters the 1990s has to offer.

-Aparna Mohan

Sound Clip:
"The Sky Is A Landfill"

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