Of all the lights that ever burned too bright, Jeff Buckley was wired one of the hottest. Haunted by his legendary folk-rock father and his own artistic demons, the silver-tongued, angel-voiced poet shook the national music scene in 1994 with a freshman album that pitted him as one of the most promising musicians of his day. Called
Grace, this 10-track journey into the gorgeously layered landscapes of Buckley's mind demonstrates his skill as a songwriter and power as a vocalist. His range goes from deep, bold tenor to one of the purist falsettos in the business, and especially on ballads like "
Corpus Christi Carol," Buckley's incredible voice quality is unearthly--a trembling, meandering life form that drips like warm honey. His death came as a shock not only to friends and family, but also to fans who hoped his sophomore album would infuse the rock industry with some much needed soul. He sang with the kind of raw melancholy, wonder and rage that made artists like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and his own father, Tim Buckley so hypnotic. And like them, he died before his time, leaving behind only a few bootlegs and one completed album. He was last seen on the evening of May 29, 1998 floating on his back fully clothed in the Mississippi River, singing a tune to the open sky. The image remains a fitting epitaph for all that might have been.