In 1997, Jeff was laying down track for his new album, My Sweetheart, the Drunk, when he took a break from recording to swim in the Mississippi River. Much like the young, impetuous Romantic poet, Percy Shelley, Jeff mysteriously drown with no traces of alcohol or drugs in his system. Posthumously, Sketches for My Sweetheart, the Drunk was released, including 10 studio tracks, and 10 more 4-track "sketches." It was certainly an unfinished opus, but it remains beloved in Jeff's canon as a fleeting glimpse of his greatness on tracks like the social system overture "The Sky is a Landfill," the R&B slow jam, "Everybody Here Wants You," and the haunting, crooning a cappella offering, "You and I."
While the quality of the tracks touch down somewhere near Grace, there's no denying the debut album as one of the greatest ever recorded in the history of the music industry. Jeff developed a following in Manhattan and turned down the advances of his father's producers and record label in order to carve his own way. His voice is an instrument all to his own, climbing unreachable scales and soaring loud and long, frilly and unbroken, powerful and poignant, faultless and frail. I recently re-bought Grace, as I gave one copy away and lost the other in a move. I never need to be without the fragile comfort it provides, without its promising portrait left without its painter, without its poetry in motion.