Album Reviews

Tim Buckley: Lady, Give Me Your Key: The Unissued 1967 Solo Acoustic Sessions (Light In The Attic)

tim-buckley

Tim Buckley
Lady, Give Me Your Key: The Unissued 1967 Solo Acoustic Sessions
Light In The Attic

Tim Buckley’s life may have been cut short, but his legacy lives on, and it lives on for one reason: that voice. He sang with a potent, passionate range that could soar into the atmosphere at the drop of a hat, sounding positively otherworldly. It didn’t hurt that he wrote beautiful, poetic lyrics to go along with it. He was a young man who knew his strengths and exactly how to utilize them to full effect, Lady, Give Me Your Key: The Unissued 1967 Solo Acoustic Sessions shows that he knew this power at a very early age.

When these songs were recorded, Buckley’s career was well underway; he had released his self-titled debut album, and though it hadn’t had much commercial success, it had impressed people with its quality songwriting and arrangement. The songs on Lady Give Me Your Key were recorded in preparation for the recording of his sophomore record, Goodbye and Hello, a title which reflected his feeling that it could either be his final album, or could be the album that introduced him to the world; at the time, he really wasn’t sure.

Lack of confidence in his recording future he may have had, it certainly wasn’t the case for the music he recorded during these off-the-cuff demo sessions. Buckley displays a youthful confidence as he runs through these numbers, future classics such as “No Man Can Find The War,” “I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain,” and “Once I Was.” Delicate numbers like “Marigold” and “Carnival Song” become downright heavenly in this stripped-down form. The unavoidable tape hiss on them only enhances them, a dimension that at the time probably couldn’t have been appreciated. It’s the sound of truth and perfection coming to you fifty years after the fact, a wabi-sabi given to you from the muses. The addition of unreleased numbers like “Lady, Give Me Your Key” and “Sixface” show that Buckley was in fine form during this time; his rejects being of such high quality, one wonders what he thought was wrong with them.

Buckley would soon abandon this style of straightforward, conventional folk (another meaning behind his Goodbye and Hello album title) in favor of a weirder, somewhat off-putting experimental folk/jazz hybrid of third album Happy Sad. He’d soon abandon the more experimental sounds in favor of blues-based barroom rock—a concession to commercialism that left some unhappy, but with hindsight it turned out to be some of his finest work. He never got the chance to further experiment, as a drug overdose claimed him in 1975, leaving behind a fine back catalogue and a son who would carry on both his vocal legacy and his doomed status. Lady, Give Me Your Key is a glimpse into the man’s work, the secret side of a young man who was barely twenty years old and already a master at his craft.

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