You And I
THOUGH ithas been nearly two decades since Jeff Buckley accidentally drowned in a Memphis river, his influence may be more widely felt today than in his heyday.
The sway of his distinctive voice and style lives on in every singing competition contestant who misguidedly tries to recapture Buckley’s magic on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah to the ever- growing flock of sensitive guys- with- guitars, from Ray LaMontagne to Ed Sheeran.
So it’s no wonder that record label archivists have been digging through his work looking for new material. But You And I is truly special.
The 10 tracks here were discovered during research for the 20th anniversary edition of his breakthrough 1994 debut, Grace, songs recorded at Shelter Island Sound studio in 1993 shortly after he signed his major- label deal.
They capture the power of Buckley’s live shows at Manhattan clubs, which touched off a bidding war for the singer- songwriter.
The way Buckley turns Sly & The Family Stone’s Everyday People into an intense, yet still funky drama with only his guitar and his voice shows why.
His soaring take on Bob Dylan’s Just Like A Woman is almost unrecognizable from the original, doling out sweetness and charm rather than sneering dismissiveness.
Buckley’s eclectic influences are also on display here, filling The Smiths’ The Boy With The Thorn In His Side with longing and swooning ang stand turning the blues classic Poor Boy Long Way From Home into something that merges the blues and the indie- folk sound thatwould be all the rage a decade later.
Because the songs of You and I are just Buckley’s vocals and guitar, they maintain a timeless quality, especially for a generation that may have never heard The Smiths’ original I Know It’s Over or Led Zeppelin’s Night Flight.
Buckley may soon have yet another generation mourning his untimely death. – Glenn Gamboa/ Newsday/ tribune News Service
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
Macklemore LLC/ Warner
MACKLEMORE & Ryan Lewis shocked the music industry in 2014 when the hip- hop duo landed four Grammy Awards for the album The Heist over the acclaimed Kendrick Lamar.
Did Macklemore and Lewis win because they were white? Thatwas certainly the debate atthe time. And it’s a debate that has seemingly consumed Macklemore on the duo’s follow- up, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.
“I forgot what this art’s for,” he raps in the opener Light Tunnels, about his Grammy experience. “I didn’t get through freshman year to drop out as a sophomore.”
In the closer, the sprawling White Privilege II, he goes even deeper, trying to figure out his place in not just the hip- hop world, butin the world in general.
Macklemore recognizes that, as a white man, he has advantages in both worlds and he can’t figure out whatto do aboutit.
“We take all we want from black culture,” he rhymes. “Butwill we show up for black lives?”
In the end, Macklemore remains unsure, as would be expected. His heart seems to be in the rightplace, especially with all the hip- hop legends lined up to help him.
His skill isn’t actually in social commentary, which often comes off feeling like musical after- school specials. It’s in off beat Thrift Shop fun and making club- bangers like Can’t Hold Us.
There isn’t one of those on This Unruly Mess, by the way. The closest they get is the anthemic single Downtown, which didn’t get the attention it deserved because many were still bogged down in the racial questions surrounding Macklemore and Lewis, and the spacey Dance Off featuring Idris Elba.
Those songs, along with the questioning Need To Know, go much further in securing Macklemore and Lewis’ future in hip- hop than the ones where they wonder what their future should be. – GG
AFTER that metal mess of a performance from the Hollywood Vampires atthe Grammys ( Alice Cooper, yes; Johnny Depp, no), it’s good to hear that cleaving heavy rawk isn’t just for dilettantes — that Australia’s Wolfmother and leader Andrew Stockdale have something to say on the matter.
Sure, that might seem a wee disingenuous, considering Stockdale’s interchangeable band has done little but ape Blue Cheer and regurgitate aged Zep and Sabbath riffs since its 2004 debut.
Still, there’s something to be said for anyone who feels such a genuine passion for heavy metal’s misty mountaintop of yore that he can think of ( or play) nothing else.
Done up in a densely packed production courtesy of Brendan O’Brien ( Pearl Jam, Springsteen), Victorious eschews mostof Stockdale’s usual Tolkien preoccupation with regaling listeners with the real and the romantic on thick- riffing songs such as Happy Face and City Light.
From there, Stockdale — sounding now like Robert Plant’s mellow nephew — travels through handsomely conditioned hair metal ( Best Of A Bad Situation), fuzzedout-Santana- worthy psychedelia ( Gypsy Caravan), rustic, boot- stomping balladry ( Pretty Peggy), and sludgy stoner- soul ( The Love That You Give).
Though notas holy as Wolfmother’s debut, Victorious is still a winner.