A "greatest hits" album for an artist who had only one full record released in his lifetime? It screams "cash cow," doesn't it?
Well, Jeff Buckley doesn't exactly fit the established patterns. His life came to an end at age 30 when he drowned in Memphis, Tennessee, ten years ago now. But his one full album, 1994's Grace, left the kind of hugely devoted fan base many artists don't get after an entire career of records. And if anything, Buckley's legend has continued to grow ever stronger in the years since he died, to the point now where's he's far more popular dead than alive.
Hence the new compilation, So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley, a collection which has the unenviable task of summing up an extremely short career without appearing overly redundant. To some, So Real might seem an attempt to gouge more money out of the fans, a la the never-ending flow of posthumous Tupac releases. There's definitely some outrage from fans who see this release as unwarranted ("Let the poor man rest in peace," one fan writes in an Amazon review).
Most of Grace is here, eight of the ten songs from that album in total appearing here in some form. However, there's only four tracks lifted directly from the album itself, then two more "alternate" versions from the double-disc Grace: Legacy Edition set and in live versions. There's also the rock blues of "Forget Her," a B-side that soars with power, or a rare Japanese acoustic concert take on "So Real." Three selections come from the posthumous second album, Sketches For My Sweetheart, the Drunk, including the beautifully sultry "Everybody Here Wants You." A particularly sweet "unheard" track on here is his lyrical cover of The Smiths' "I Know It's Over." And of course there's what probably is Buckley's best-known song, his cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which has appeared on a slew of movie and TV show soundtracks.