Jeff Buckley's "You and I" collects 10 tracks recorded in...

Jeff Buckley's "You and I" collects 10 tracks recorded in the early 1990s. Credit: Columbia / Legacy Recordings


BOTTOM LINE Newly discovered recordings of the groundbreaking artist gone too soon.

Though it has 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” (Columbia/Legacy Recordings) 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, including Sin-é, 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 angst and turning the blues classic “Poor Boy Long Way From Home” into something that merges the blues and the indie-folk sound that would 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.

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