“After his beginnings as a gentle, melodic baroque folk-rocker, Buckley gradually evolved into a downright experimental singer/songwriter” (Unterberger). “Buckley had already begun to delve into jazz fusion on late-‘60s records like Happy Sad, and explored some fairly ‘out’ acrobatic, quasi-operatic vocals on his final Elektra LP, Lorca” (Unterberger), but “Starsailor is the culmination of his experimentation” (Unterberger).
As a result, this album “isn’t for everybody, or even for every Buckley fan” (Unterberger); it “alienated far more listeners than it exhilarated upon its release” (Unterberger), but the album “endures as one of the most uncompromising statements ever made by a singer/songwriter” (Unterberger).
“With former Mother of Invention Bunk Gardner augmenting Buckley’s group on sax and alto flute, Buckley applies vocal gymnastics to a set of material that’s as avant-garde in its songwriting as its execution” (Unterberger). The album is filled with “surrealistic lyrics, heavy on landscape imagery like rivers, skies, suns, and jungle fires” (Unterberger).
“At his most anguished (which is often on this album), he sounds as if his liver is being torn out – slowly. Almost as if to prove he can still deliver a mellow buzz, he throws in a couple of pleasant jazz-pop cuts, including the odd, jaunty French tune Moulin Rouge” (Unterberger).
Interestingly, despite the album being “regarded as not being accessible to many people, it also contains his best known song Song to the Siren” (Wikipedia.org). The song “has been covered by a variety of artists, most notably This Mortal Coil” (Wikipedia.org).
“While the revival of ‘Song to the Siren’ renewed interest in Buckley amongst independent artists in the 1980s, the success of his estranged son, Jeff Buckley, in the 1990s, inspired indie rock artists to look at the career of his father. The British band Starsailor took their name from this album” (Wikipedia.org).