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on 12 May 2010
Collected here over two cd's are the beginnings of what would have been Jeff Buckley's sophomore album. Jeff intended for this album to be more rock n' roll than Grace, and in places this is certainly noticeable. Not often though, as My Sweetheart the Drunk keeps much of the tender, touching, tremulous vocal and guitar delivery of his debut.

The album is divided in two, an unfinished recording he made with Television's Tom Verlaine at the helm on disk one, and a collection of homemade demo's on disk two.

Disk one is obviously closer to the finished article, but Jeff wasn't entirely satisfied with it, and so it was abandoned. It's hard to know why, although stories regarding the number of takes Grace took to record suggest an artist stubbornly bent on perfection. Maybe he and Verlaine just couldn't get it right in the timeframe they had?

The songs of Disc one are a natural progression, without revolution, from Grace; a plethora of styles, genres and influences: Everybody Here Wants You (released in Australia) has a real soul flavour to it, while Nightmares By The Sea and Vancouver are about driving guitar lines. Yard Of Blonde Girls has a big guitar riff and is a bit of an anthem, while Opened Once and Morning Theft are both beautiful folk songs. Perhaps most interesting is New Year's Prayer, with a qawwali influenced creeping melody.

Disk two is more difficult and perhaps more interesting. I've always seen disc two as more indicative of where Jeff was going, but obviously that's just a hunch. Stripped of production prettiness, often with only his own tapping for accompanyment, this is Jeff Buckley in his bedroom, working out ideas.

Some are more worked out than others. Murder Suicide Meteor Slave, Jewel Box and Your Flesh Is So Nice are all sketchy, totally unfinished works in progress. Nightmares By The Sea and New Years Prayer are stripped back versions of those on disk one. The standouts for me are I Know We Could Be So Happy (If We Wanted To Be), Back In N.Y.C and, particularly, Haven't You Heard and Gunshot Glitter. On these Buckley keeps the tender and heartfelt themes previously expounded, but adds venom. I simply would love to know where he was going to take these three tracks, as the sky was surely the limit.

Tagged on the end of disk two is a quite wonderful cover of Satisfied Mind, delivered in much the same way as Hallelujah on Grace. While slightly at odds with the rest of the disk, it's a wonderful inclusion.

Quite what Jeff would have made of the release of his cast-offs and sketches, no-one quite knows. What this album does show is the inner workings of a great great artist. It's so sad that this is "Sketches..." and not "My Sweetheart The Drunk".
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on 10 August 2004
Some say the 4-track recordings on the 2nd CD let the whole down. Others point to the fact that JB would probably not have wanted us to hear his unfinished work. Although I would agree with the latter (the CD inlay shows excerpts from his journal; I don't just write songs for Sony), I would point out that when band members and Steve Berkowitch (executive producer), along with other top Sony chiefs, heard the demos, they all felt that here was something better than Grace. These demos give us a glimpse of what might have been. Sure, they aren't recorded well, but the beauty shines through (listen to Ben Folds 5 or Devandra Banhart for under-produced yet wonderful songs). We can't hear the true My Sweetheart The Drunk, and the songs on the first CD were to be destroyed as JB hated them. Make your own mind up about the other tracks, but these demos are the bones of what he wanted us to hear - these are the gems of this compiltation and I urge you to buy it for this alone.
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on 19 August 2001
Had it ever have been finished, My sweetheart would have been as brilliant if not more so than its predecesser. People should bear in mind while listening to this that Jeff never intended this to be released as it is hence "Sketches for..." The album serves as evidence of just how great that next album was going to be. Amongst what could be considered as weaker tracks (by jeffs standards) such as Witches Rave are utter beauties such as Satisfied Mind, You and I, and Morning Theft. there are surging tracks such as the Sky is a Landfill and the confident strut of yarde of blonde Girls and Your Flesh is so Nice. Its an essential partner to Grace and a sad reminder of what could have been.
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on 11 January 2000
There seemed to be no rhyme or reason behind Jeff Buckley's early demise. The music world was robbed of one of it's most unique and classic talents, and he leaves a great void which many other musicians struggle , yet fail, to fill. His stunning debut "Grace" was a landmark album and a fitting testament to his gifts. This album is not a follow up as such, but a posthumous love letter to Buckley. The first disc comprises new studio songs which would have appeared on the second album, whilst the second disc is a selection of demoes and four track recordings. These latter songs are a rough listen and the melodies struggle to rise up from beneath the murky lack of production, but nevertheless, it is an interesting and special insight into the man at work. Disc 1 is where the real trophies are to be found - and the jewels are a plenty. The tracks have a surreal, other wordly feel to them - witness "Morning theft" and "Everybody Here Wants You" for sheer beauty. Elsewhere , Buckley takes us in other diverse directions- "Vancouver" is a soundtrack to a glorious summer road movie, and "The Sky Is A Landfill" contains perhaps his most intense lyrics and is a biting satire on American society. The song that really breaks the heart is called "Opened Once". It is worth the admission price alone. A shimmering fragility pervades the music and the lyrics "I am the railroad track abandoned..with the sunlight forgetting that I ever happened" haunt the listener long after the album has stopped playing.
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on 6 January 2008
Jeff Buckley is frequently seen as a one-album wonder given that he issued only one full-length LP in his lifetime, but it was his tragic accidental death by drowning at 30 that curtailed the flow of more albums and not a lack of drive or talent. These unfinished sketches for his second album My Sweetheart the Drunk show what a great album it would have been, rivaling Grace's huge popularity. The versatility of style evident on his debut album is taken further here - Buckley demonstrates an astonishing musical breadth, shifting from soul funk to the dissonant sonic noise of Murder Suicide Meteor Slave, to the more middle-of-road rock numbers (on which he sometimes sounds eerily like Kurt Cobain). His vocals on these sketches are breathtaking (he featured prominently in Mojo's list of The Greatest Vocalists of All Time), especially on the pure sex soul of Everybody Here Wants You and his cover of Porter Wagoner's Satisfied Mind. The lyrics have become more erotic, e.g. Your Flesh is So Nice, and on Jewel Box where he sings "I know you're a woman by the way you burn below" (interestingly Tim Buckley also sang euphemistically of "my lady's chamber"). In a terrible sense of foreboding, there is a fair amount of water imagery, too: oceans overflow inside a loved-one (Opened Once), "I've loved so many times and I've drowned them all... Stay with me under these waves, tonight" (Nightmares by the Sea), the "poisoned river wild" of You & I, the reservoir heart of Morning Theft and the falling down to the sea on Gunshot Glitter.

Buckley would have tinkered, reshaped and even erased some of these tracks before release, so inevitably they are not all mind-blowing and some are quite patchy. It's just my subjective opinion, but I couldn't warm to Witches' Rave, Yard of Blonde Girls, Murder Suicide Meteor Slave and some of the other middle tracks of the second disc. Buckley was for me primarily a master of ballad-like songs of wounded romance and desire (even Leonard Cohen has said of Grace's Hallelujah, "I wrote the lyrics, but it is definitely a Buckley song"), so it's the more tender and falsetto-high songs which capture me. Some of the lyrics are stunning, with stellar expressions of loss ('I am a railroad track abandoned / With the sunset forgetting I ever happened', Opened Once), but some of them are underdeveloped and almost nonsensical (e.g. 'Hot, pink, nasty bubblegum / Coming down just like a big red coal'!). Yet Sketches is nevertheless well worth listening to, for Buckley's extraordinary vocal talent, his experiments with style and to hear how he might have moved on from the multi-million selling Grace. These are, sadly, the final blueprints of an immensely talented and sorely missed artist.

Standout tracks: Everybody Here Wants You, You & I, Jewel Box, Morning Theft, Opened Once, Satisfied Mind

Also recommended: David Browne's book Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley
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on 30 June 2005
I have read the other reviews and none of them credit this album as much as they should. I think it is because people find 'Grace' easier to listen to, but it does not completely show Buckley's best. However this a;bum does.'Everybody here wants you' is truly beautiful and his voice is amazing in it. But the album also has some of his more mysterious songs, like 'Yard of Blonde haired girls' and 'Nightmares by the sea'.This is my favourite ever album and is a must have by any Jeff fan. However if you have never heard his music before then buy 'Grace' and if you love that, then buy this.
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on 8 April 2003
For the sake of the album I felt that I had to write something. I've had this for years now and it's nearly the soundtrack to a life. I have never cared to learn the titles to any of the songs. I merely put one of them on when the mood swings me in that direction. I've listened to it all over the world, mostly in transit. I loved Grace. I recognise myself in Sketches. It's that simple. Ask yourself "What is an album supposed to do?". Like the tenacity of the great classical composers it thrusts itself into your soul and leaves you full or empty. The common traits that litter our lives are there in Sketches. We don't invite them in. They are already there. As long as you aren't worshipping Jeff then you'll do fine. He was a songwriter and a friend. He never claimed to be anything else. We are lucky to have lived in the time that he was here and even luckier to keep living that time through this album. Flawed, fragrant, emaciated, howling...it's what we are as men and what we aspire to be as human beings. So buy this album before you buy Grace. I would recommend the DVD as well if only for the interviews with him. How do you compete with someone so focussed on what they love? Simple answer is you don't. Jeff was a man, full of every conceivable weakness, just like you and me. Sketches screams this at those who bother to listen.
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on 18 March 2009
It's so tempting to look at this as Jeff Buckley's second album, but then I have to remind myself that this is a selection of unfinished material compiled posthumously. However, it works so well, it's perfect. Jeff was allegedly unhappy with he had recorded up to his death but I really can't see how the selection of songs on the first disc could be better. This is very different from Grace, not quite as dark and the different influences quite apparent. It is however just as beautiful, a record to change your life. Every track of the first disc is wonderful, particularly 'Opened Once', 'Everyone Here Wants You' and 'Morning Theft'. The second disc gives an intriging insight into what this record would have been like if he had lived. It is one of those tragedies of life that we will never ever know. Seriously, buy this...it will strike your heart and soul in ways you can't imagine.
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on 24 April 2011
For any people that are thinking of using this album as an introduction to Jeff Buckley's music - don't. Go and find 'Grace', listen, listen again, be amazed and then come back. This album is aimed at people who have already found and fallen in love with 'Grace' and rightly so; this is the work that Jeff may not have even wanted us to hear - it's not finished but having said that it is still finished enough to give us a rough idea of what Jeff was planning and from hearing this, it would've have been pretty amazing and more importantly it would not in any way have been 'Grace 2'.
It comes in two discs, the first features all his 'finished' tracks as opposed to the second which features more rough sounding recordings.

My top 3 on disc one are:
"Everybody Here Wants You"
"Opened Once"
"Vancouver"

and on disc two:
"I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted to Be)"
"Your Flesh Is So Nice"
"Jewel Box"

The tracks on 'Sketches' for me, have taken and are most likely going to continue to take a few more listens to get used to - whereas on 'Grace', after the second listen to the whole album I had fallen in love with every single track.. But it would be wrong to compare it to 'Grace' because it's not at all. 'Grace' was finished, each track perfected and handpicked by Jeff (except Forget Her - which is a stunning song, regardless) because he wanted us to hear them. Although this album shows us a different side to Jeff than what was seen on 'Grace', he did not necessarily want us to hear these songs and who knows, maybe half these tracks wouldn't have made the final cut, but then again, maybe they would have. Nobody knows or ever will know but that doesn't change the fact that 'Sketches' is still a great piece of work by a musical genius.

As I have already said: 'Sketches' was not going to be 'Grace 2'... but change is a good thing, right?
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on 13 March 2011
Jeff Buckley is frequently seen as a one-album wonder, having released only one full-length LP in his lifetime, but it was his tragic accidental death by drowning at 30 that curtailed the flow of more albums and not a lack of drive or talent. These unfinished sketches for his second album My Sweetheart the Drunk show what a great album it would have been, rivaling Grace's huge popularity. The versatility of style evident on his debut album is taken further here - Buckley demonstrates an astonishing musical breadth, shifting from soul funk to the dissonant sonic noise of Murder Suicide Meteor Slave, to the more middle-of-road rock numbers (on which he sometimes sounds eerily like Kurt Cobain). His vocals on these sketches are breathtaking (he featured prominently in Mojo's list of The Greatest Vocalists of All Time), especially on the pure sex soul of Everybody Here Wants You and his cover of Porter Wagoner's Satisfied Mind.

The lyrics have become more erotic, e.g. Your Flesh is So Nice, and on Jewel Box where he sings "I know you're a woman by the way you burn below" (interestingly Tim Buckley also sang euphemistically of "my lady's chamber"). In a terrible sense of foreboding, there is a fair amount of water imagery, too: oceans overflow inside a loved-one (Opened Once), "I've loved so many times and I've drowned them all... Stay with me under these waves, tonight" (Nightmares by the Sea), the "poisoned river wild" of You & I, the reservoir heart of Morning Theft and the falling down to the sea on Gunshot Glitter.

Buckley would have tinkered, reshaped and even erased some of these tracks before release, so inevitably they are not all mind-blowing and some are quite patchy. It's just my subjective opinion, but I didn't like Witches' Rave, Yard of Blonde Girls, Murder Suicide Meteor Slave and some of the other middle tracks of the second disc. Buckley was for me primarily a master of ballad-like songs of wounded romance and desire (even Leonard Cohen has said of Grace's Hallelujah, "I wrote the lyrics, but it is definitely a Buckley song"), so it's the more tender and falsetto-high songs which capture me. Some of the lyrics are stunning, with stellar expressions of loss ('I am a railroad track abandoned / With the sunset forgetting I ever happened', Opened Once), but some of them are underdeveloped and almost nonsensical (e.g. 'Hot, pink, nasty bubblegum / Coming down just like a big red coal'!). Yet Sketches is nevertheless worth listening to, for Buckley's extraordinary vocal talent, his experiments with style and to hear how he might have moved on from the multi-million selling Grace. These are, sadly, the final blueprints of an instinctively talented and sorely missed artist. (Jan 2008)

Standouts: Everybody Here Wants You, You & I, Jewel Box, Morning Theft, Opened Once, Satisfied Mind

Also recommended: David Browne's book Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley and Buckley's cover of 'We all fall in love sometimes' found on YouTube

(Review date: 6 Jan 2008)
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