Like Jeff Buckley, Heliotricity?

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There will never be another Jeff Buckley, period. But this guy Daniel Shams from Heliotricity sure sounds like him, in fact he sounds more like JB at times than JB did. Is that even possible? LIke JB or more like JB than JB or not what I do know is that not only does Daniel sing the way he wants, but he does better than anyone out there today.

I’ve been hooked on his music since the late 90’s when you could see him playing on street corners in the Mission district of San Francisco. That was ten years ago, since then he has been living abroad: Spain, Egypt, I don’t even know where else, you’ll have to ask him. I asked him about JB in a radio interview I conducted for a small station I had started out of Hoboken in 2004, here is what he had to say.
W.B. Gold

(WBG): When did you first hear Jeff Buckley?

(Daniel Shams): “It wasn’t long after he had died. I was in NYC visiting a good friend of mine and he had introduced me to a singer songwriter friend of his named Christian. Christian like me at that time was working hard, composing, playing wherever he could, open mics, etc. He was renting my friends room and was living with his girlfriend there and we got to talking and soon after were trading songs back and forth. The first song I played for him was a tune I wrote called “Helium”, it has a real driving rhythm and the vocals enter on a really high note and then descend down in this little melody line. I had never heard Jeff before but I do sort of remember his name coming up in my life around this time, after I had started performing Helium in particular. I’d hear his name the way people after hearing you will say who you remind them of, or asking if you have heard of so and so. Anyways, after hearing “Helium” Christian said “Man, you have REALLY got to hear Grace, you are going to flip out”, so he put on the disc and pressed play.

So as everybody knows the first track is “Mojo Pin”, it kind of fades in with that fingerpicked guitar and his ghostly falsetto rising in over it in swells. It is a beautiful song, still my favorite song on that album, not because it was the first one I heard, but always have loved the lyrics, the long weaving melody lines, and then that break about three quarters in where the song climaxes and he does that scream when the music stops and then that note which transforms into that long, weaving really pretty descending line, that part on the album version just gets me every time.

…years later I remember seeing Jeff’s mom Mary Guibert in some church in San Francisco. Buckley fanatic friends from an open mic in SF who would always talk to me about Jeff because since my voice was sort of like his it was just a natural topic had told me about it. Mary Guibert at that time was traveling around to various sites, promoting a documentary they were just releasing, or maybe it was the release of the Mystery White Boy live show DVD. Anyway I was really moved to see her there, talking about Jeff and answering questions from the people in the audience. How difficult that must have been for a mother who had recently lost her son.”

His voice, delivery and phrasing is actually closer to Tim Buckley.
-Slav Hurtow

What can you call this, but really good music? Same with Jeff. Not soul, not rock, not pop, not jazz, just Jeff….
-Michael Clark

He only sounds a lot like Jeff in the upper register, but his voice is thinner.

agree! more like tim but “kinda” like jeff in the soft vibrato sections…but yes more like tim.

His upper register reminds me a lot of Jeff.
-Gerree Serrels

yup. more like tim. It’s a timbre thing. a little like thom as well.
-Judas Smith


ecxuse me, but he doesn’t sound more like jeff than jeff ever did. he sounds different


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