It’s kind of a minor miracle that there was enough content available in Jeff Buckley’s back catalogue to pull together the 10 tracks that comprise You and I. Two albums of his unreleased content have already been released posthumously, and there also exists two separate “Greatest Hits”, which are particularly questionable, given they largely draw from Grace. As such, You and I is largely made up of covers, with songs written by other artists comprising 8 of the 10 tracks on the album, and another one being a demo of the title track from Grace. It’s difficult for You and I to not feel like a naked cash-grab; a collection of songs that never needed to see the light of day.
The opening 5 songs on You and I are all sleepy, bluesy ballads, and they form one of the most sedentary openings to any record in recent memory. The opening cover of Bob Dylan’s Just Like a Woman is initially entertaining, with it’s folksy guitar melodies, but Buckley stretches the 4 minute original out to 6 and a half, and he cannot maintain the song’s energy throughout. Everyday People and Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin both traffic in barely-there guitar lines, as Buckley sings the old standards with odd inflections, and they both seem to drag on far past their running times.
In spite of the album being generally lacklustre, several tracks are quite good. Buckley’s covers of The Smiths’ The Boy with the Thorn In His Side and I Know It’s Over feel very much his own, with all of Morrissey’s original inflection subtracted, and replaced by Buckley’s precocious earnestness. The cover of Led Zeppelin’s Night Flight is pleasantly upbeat, in contrast to the majority of the album, and Page’s vocal line suits Buckley’s own emotive voice. It’s a fun track in a record sorely lacking in such. In general, the second half of the album is much more successful than the first, with the exception of Dream of You and I, which sees Buckley recounting a dream over gentle guitar plucking, about a band of “spacey dead-heads”, playing experimental and dramatic music, which sounds like a far more invigorating experience than the track itself.
You and I is a great demonstration of the fact that even though an artist may as be as undeniably talented as Jeff Buckley, not all their material is necessarily worth releasing. Buckley is good musician, and is famously good at covers, but many of these feel underdeveloped and needlessly minimal, and the opening half of the record is painfully dull. In spite of Buckley’s amazing voice and virtuosic guitar playing, You and I feels like an album that had no business being released in the first place.