Dream Brother Sleeps
Not quite nine years after Jeff Buckleyâ€šÃ„Ã´s premature death and thirty years after his father, Tim Buckleyâ€šÃ„Ã´s, own early demise, Rykodisc has released Dream Brother: The Songs of Tim & Jeff Buckley, a tribute to the two under-the-radar artists featuring an array of even-further-under-the-radar artists.What the Buckleys had most in common were their expansive vocal ranges and their ability to craft lingering, haunting melodies. The artists that most try to mimic either one or both of these traits suffer the greatest blunder. Another handful, particularly covering the elder Buckleyâ€šÃ„Ã´s works, manage to stay close to the blueprints without encountering blatant imitation and create respectable, true-to-form versions, including the Earlies â€šÃ„ÃºI Must Have Been Blind,â€šÃ„Ã¹ and Clayhillâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºThe River.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Critical darling Sufjan Stevens is most successful here, offering a soft, lush reworking of the ballad â€šÃ„ÃºShe Isâ€šÃ„Ã¹ that is consistent with his own style.
Greater risk is taken by artists covering Jeff Buckleyâ€šÃ„Ã´s songs. Bitmap morphs the title track from a rock-driven myth to an electronic, noise-induced dreamscape with shadowy vocals. Micah P. Hinsonâ€šÃ„Ã´s folk-stomp turn of â€šÃ„ÃºYard of Blonde Girlsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ holds up on its own as a fun, G-rated sing-a-long, but disappoints in comparison to the original, thanks to the complete absence of the originalâ€šÃ„Ã´s overt sexuality, generated by Buckleyâ€šÃ„Ã´s sludgy, aggressive guitars
The most intriguing track has the opposite effect. By removing most of the lyrics, as well as the croony, slow-jam style of â€šÃ„ÃºEverybody Here Wants You,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Matthew Herbert and Dani Siciliano create a bare-bones track using only an acoustic guitar and electronic punch. The result is the stand-out song of the album, full of slow tension cut only by an abrupt, unfulfilling end.
This well-deserved tribute works feels like a first draft, ready to be reworked and remade into a better version of itself. Perhaps the next time this material is revisited, it will be by musicians as adventurous as Tim and Jeff Buckley.