Sketches from My Sweetheart the Drunk

CD Cover Jeff Buckley

Review by Darren Kerr

Depending on which magazine you read, you are supposed to approach listening to this album with feelings of (a) voyeurism from reading secret diaries full of unresolve or (b) digust at a posthumous release which taints the memory of a great performer.

This record should not be listened to with a guilty conscience. We should feel uplifted by its sounds, not greasy over the way they came to us. As for being disgusted, well, I've always felt that Spin Magazine is the barometer of nothing, and the harsh words by their review lackey just lend weight to that fact.

Jeff's mother, Mary Guibert, wanted his fans to hear more of his wonderful creations because, even though he left us so much, there was so little of it. This is her tribute to Jeff's memory and I think she has done the world a great favor. The man's unmatchable talent is only bested by the tragic knowledge that he is gone. With all that said, listen in celebration of the chords, the voice, and the life of the mischievous angel.

Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk consists of two discs. The first is comprised of sessions Buckley did with Television's Tom Verlaine; the second is made up of naked four-track recordings of Buckley alone with his muse.

To me, the Verlaine sessions are fully realized. Tracks like "Nightmares by the Sea" and "New Year's Prayer" are just as good as anything on Grace. The former is a fast-paced, rolling song with a chorus that sticks to the roof of your brain like peanut butter, while the latter is a sparse hypnotic chant where Jeff beckons us to "fall in love/fall in love/fall in love." The seductive "Everybody Here Wants You" is all bedroom eyes and loving tongue.

Disc two is the motherlode. Full of weird challenge and perplexing risk, as whacked as a milk and vodka highball, it is Jeff flying his freak flag and speaking in the voice of the joker. "Murder Suicide Meteor Slave" is out there, baby, way out there on some cryptic guitar skronking plane that he was flying through at the time. The Genesis cover "Back in N.Y.C." is the lamb tripping out on Broadway, stripped down and stoned out with the most saturated guitar distortion this side of Alien Jorgensen's backyard. "Your Flesh is So Nice" is the strangest lyrically with Jeff taking on the persona of a lesbian. Fascinating stuff, all of it.

Mary, in all sincerity, thank you.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on June 16, 1998

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