April 1995 Pg. 21
JEFF BUCKLEY The Power Of Grace by James Rotondi
"One guitar player has an orchestra in his hands," says Jeff Buckley. "I like guitar parts that have a really insistent rhythm and attitude, but with finesse at the same time." The confident 26-year-old singer/songwritter, who deservedly took Best New Male Singer honors in the 1994 Rolling Stone critics poll, creates his own guitar reality. His Columbia debut album Grace is loaded with rich, clean-toned chord voicings, stunning changes, and airy, brisk grooves. Strumming a Gibson L-1 in his hotel room, Jeff ably picks out bits from Zep's "Ten Years Gone" and Joni MItchell's "Coyote" - musical vibes echoed in originals like "Last Goodbye" and "Mojo Pin".
The Son of late folksinger Tim Buckley, whose Blue Afternoon and Starsailor are cult classics [available on Rhino], Jeff grew up listening to folkies like Mitchell and Cat Stevens until being turned on to Zep and Kiss. Later he discovered bluesmen from Son House to Bukka White, jazz cats like Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius, and legends such as Coltrane, Miles, and Duke Ellington. His broad musical background is evident in Grace's cover tunes: a stirring, fingerpicked rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", composer Benjamin Btitten's "Corpus Christi Carol", and the sweet jazz tune "Lilac Wine", popularized by chanteuse Nina Simone.
Buckley worked with Manhattan avant-rocker Gary Lucas for a few years before striking out on his own. (That's Lucas playing gorgeous ambient guitar on "Mojo Pin" and "Grace".) It was his solo electric guitar and voice performances-captured on the EP Live at Sin-e- that got Jeff signed to Columbia in '92. For Grace, he enlisted drummer Matt Johnson and bassist Mick Grondahl, adding guitarist Michael Tighe to the fold as sessions for Grace were wrapping up at Bearsville Studio in upstate New York. Tighe's eerie diminished chords put the mojo into "So Real". "I like chords that have parts of two chords," says Buckley, who often uses droning strings and octave voicings in standard, dropped-D, and open-G,D, and C tunings. "I like the guitar's mysterious quality the best."
Both Buckley and Tighe play Fender Telecasters. "If there were no Telecasters, there would be no James Brown, no Zeppelin I, II, and III, no Elvis, no country, and no Prince," states Buckley. Both players run biamped into Fender Vivroverbs and Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier combos. Buckley uses an Alesis Quadraverb for shimmering , church-like textures, and is engineering cool complementary rhythm parts with Tighe, a less experienced but very inspired player.
"I like low stage volume," Buckley explains. "I want the idea and the sound of the idea to intoxicate-not the voltage. Otherwise it's a mindless thrusting that brings nothing but repulsion. Once you have stacks of Marshalls, you need stacks of people to take care of them. Plus you have to jump around and get nipple piercings."