Given the vault-emptying that has followed the 1997 death of Jeff Buckley — who released only one album, the shivering, searing “Grace,” during his lifetime — it’d be easy to view “You And I” as mere barrel-scraping. But there’s a tremendous amount of preserved intimacy on these unearthed first studio recordings. It’s hard not to imagine the label listening to the singer’s whirlwind take on Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman” or (especially) his own churning “Grace” and realizing precisely how unique a find Buckley was. The album’s archival nature reveals its limitations: More than half of these songs have appeared (albeit in different recordings) on other posthumous releases, and “Dream of You and I” is literally just a sketch he hoped to build upon. (Its connection to his later “You & I” is limited to two short lines.) But even a dully straight version of the Smiths’ “The Boy With the Thorn in His Side” pointed the way to what Buckley was becoming by showing what he wasn’t.
ESSENTIAL “Just Like a Woman”Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.