Live albums are rarely a good idea. Posthumously released live albums are invariably a terrible idea - usually the stuff of nightmares and capable of inflicting grievous damage on an artist's reputation. This is an exception. Far from tainting Buckley's already legendary status, Dream Letter is more than capable, on its own, of completely justifying it.
Ironically this 2 hour complete recording of Buckley's first ever British gig was never intended for release and the tapes remained lost until 15 years after Buckley's death. Thank heaven they were found because this album is essential listening for any Tim fan, or indeed anyone who loves music.
Most of the songs are from Buckley's first three albums, although there are several unreleased songs and two songs that later turned up on Blue Afternoon and Sefronia. All the songs are much better here than in their studio versions (with the possible exception of the opener Buzzin' Fly), the arrangements are spare but gorgeous and Tim's voice has never sounded better - a rich, soaring, beautiful instrument of unparalleled power and subtlety. In addition the whole set is beautifully recorded.
Of the unreleased songs Troubadour is the highlight. It's a fine companion piece to the preceding Hallucinations and as fine a song as Buckley wrote in his early phase. There are some odd moments too - Strange Feelin' and Carnival Song are almost completely different songs to the studio recordings with the same names. The first of these is another highlight, incidentally.
With the continued inexplicable absence of Starsailor from the CD shelves, Dream Letter is probably the best Buckley album currently available. An essential purchase for Buckley fans and a fantastic introduction for newcomers. Indispensable.