Elliott Smithby Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith's self-titled second album was his first for the Kill Rock Stars label and also his first major artistic statement. Its sound is fairly similar to that of Roman Candle -- it's mostly just Smith and his gently fingerpicked acoustic guitar, embellished a bit more often with drums, harmony vocals, and the odd additional instrument. The main difference here is that Smith's melodies and lyrics reveal their greater strength and substance with repeated listens. And make no mistake, the songs do require repeated listens -- not just because of Smith's often whispery, spiderweb-thin delivery, but also because of his deceptively angular melodies and chord progressions, which threaten to float away until the listener hears them enough to latch on and know where they're going. Smith is often compared to Paul Simon or the Beatles in their softer moments, but perhaps the best touchstone for this early sound is Nick Drake's even more minimalistic Pink Moon; while Smith's language is rawer and tougher than Drake's haunting poetics, his songs also deal with depression and loneliness, creating an almost uncomfortable intimacy with their bare-bones arrangements. The quiet prettiness of Smith's sound can make it easy to overlook the darker, edgier side of his songs -- many of Smith's embittered characters cope with their dysfunctional relationships or breakups through substance abuse, while some of the lyrics read more like angry, defiant punk rants when separated from the music. Smith would flesh out his sound with the albums to come, but Elliott Smith contains the blueprint for his later successes, and more importantly, it's a fully realized work itself.
- Release Date:
- Kill Rock Stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
I don't know a huge percentage of ES's output, but I love this record. Memorable melodies and spiteful, thoughtful lyrics (including a fascination with the epithet 'idiot kid') delivered in hushed tones, with quiet arrangements. He comes across like a Neil Young for the 90s both in song and in voice. Definitely a record to be heard.
Elliott Smith was an amazing lyrical and musical genius. I can personally connect with every song. Having every cd, I suggest that you buy his cd either/or.
I've listened to nearly all of Smith's work, including the five albums he released while alive, his post-humous album, unreleased live/studio tracks, and many covers, and though I've found something I loved in all of them, this is still my favorite album of his. If you are just starting to look around Smith's wide range of musical capabilities, then starting out with 'Either/Or' or 'XO' might be better, but if what you are looking for is a stark, pinpoint guitar-and-vocal-only fix then this is definitely a must have. This remains Smith's darkest album, but is, very much like 'Roman Candle,' his barest, with haunting lyrics, precise fingerpicking, and the overwhelming feeling of self-defeat and attemped escapism. For other artists, this might not work to their advantage, but for Smith, he didn't need anything else.
This is album is absolutely beautiful,i spent months trying to find, it and i did, and i listened to it over and over agian.And now i find myself very emotionaly Attached to this album.