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Elliott Smith

January 19th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Elliott Smith

Recorded mildly better than his debut (Roman Candle on Cavity Search), the self-titled second solo album is one of the most understated and incredible albums to emerge from the indie-rock scene in the 1990s. With his nimble picking fingers behind him, Smith writes sad, little songs about drugs and romantic codependence that border on the obsessed. “Needle in the Hay” and “The White Lady Loves You More” are exemplary tunes that fuse the Beatles’ pop sense with Neil Young’s sense of doom. Lying in his own burned out basement, Smith can rough up the gentlest love song with a few salty words of choice. –Rob O’Connor

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  1. bellaceti “bellaceti”
    January 19th, 2011 at 11:27 | #1
    43 of 43 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    the best elliott smith album, December 10, 2000
    By 
    bellaceti “bellaceti” (L.A., CA) –
    This review is from: Elliott Smith (Audio CD)

    I can’t believe the reviewers who think the songs on this album all “sound the same” and have “no substance.” This is the best Elliott Smith album ever. The entire album is beautiful in its starkness, from the squeaks of Elliott’s guitar to Rebecca Gates’ harmonies on St. Ides Heaven. Many Elliott Smith fans will say that this album is by far the most personal and honest. How can anyone listen to songs like “Clementine” and “The White Lady Loves You More” and say these songs have no substance?

    As a long-time Elliott Smith fan, I have to say that I miss this lo-fi side of his music. I love the lush production of “XO” and “Figure 8″, but this one is my absolute favorite.

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  2. Lesley Freitas
    January 19th, 2011 at 11:38 | #2
    39 of 39 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    This is one of the best albums ever!, August 1, 1998
    By A Customer
    This review is from: Elliott Smith (Audio CD)

    Why Elliott Smith is not bigger than the Beatles I will never know. This album (his second) is full of beautiful melodies and even more beautiful lyrics about alcoholism, an unhappy childhood, dependency, and just generally screwing up. Elliott tells it like it is and does not pity himself or whine. It is also the most personal album I have ever heard, and it sounds like he is playing to you while you’re sitting around in your room. Probably that is due to the fact that it was recorded on an 8-track in people’s basements, but it is also due to the fact that what he sings about is so real to anyone who has any type of dependency or has ever felt depressed. Actually, forget that-I think any HUMAN can relate to his words. But its not a depressing album, honeslty. In fact, if you didn’t speak english, songs like “St. Ides Heaven” (about an unrepentant drunk) and “Coming Up Roses” may sound pretty happy. It is that contrast between the sweet melodies and ! shockingly real lyrics that makes Elliott’s songs the original masterpieces that they are. The opening song, “Needle In the Hay” is about a junkie madly in search of a fix, but (here is another brilliant thing about Elliott), his songs go beyond surface level. The song is about dependency in general, which makes it light years more powerful. I always used to think that the screaming ways of punk rock were the best ways to express how you really felt, but the quiet words of the eternally shy Elliott are millions of times stronger. He sings with such an honesty and such force that no amount of screaming could compare. Anyway, I could babble on and on about how brilliant and incredible this album is, but please, buy it for yourself, before this man becomes any more famous. And forget this critical stuff-his music just sounds great.

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  3. Anonymous
    January 19th, 2011 at 12:34 | #3
    42 of 43 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The best showcase of Smith’s ability, June 24, 2005
    By 
    Lesley Freitas (Chicago, IL USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Elliott Smith (Audio CD)

    If I were pressed to choose a favorite Elliott Smith album–and that is a very hard decision indeed!–this one would make the cut. As a huge Elliott Smith fan, I find each of his albums amazing in their own unique way: “Roman Candle” for its starkness and startling beauty; “Either/Or” because it is here than Smith reached his full lyrical potential; “XO” because we finally get to see the incredible depths of music Smith could create; “Figure 8″ for the challenges he presents to himself; and “from a basement on the hill” for the final insight into a beautifully talented and deeply troubled mind. But in the end, Smith’s self-titled album stands out as a diamond among gems. It is here that we hear him come into his own, and the possibility this album presents–even if we know the end of his tale–lights up every song.

    The first track, “Needle in the Hay,” sets the tone for the album. It is stripped down, both musically and lyrically; the intimacy of the music and dead honesty of the lyrics make it seem as though you could reach out and touch Smith. “Needle in the Hay” is forthcoming about Smith’s problems with drugs, like many other songs on the album–”St. Ides Heaven” and “The White Lady Loves You More” most obviously, as well as practically every other song in semi-hidden reference. The beauty of Smith’s writing is that he is able to sing about these experiences without either glorifying them or falling into self-pity.

    Several songs in particular stand out to me: “Alphabet Town,” “Good to Go,” and “The Biggest Lie.” Smith has often been compared to Nick Drake, and while I believe he was not particularly fond of that comparison, I feel it is incredibly apt for “Alphabet Town.” On the surface, the song has little in common with a Nick Drake song; however, the way Smith sings it–as though he must sing it, even though the effort required is inhuman–channels no one but Nick Drake. “Good to Go” falls into that camp as well, and is particularly touching and personal. “The Biggest Lie,” the closing song on the album, strikes me as the most unique song. It is not a happy song, but Smith’s tone changes; you get the sense that he feels cleansed, and the album ends with the possibility of hope.

    I realize that much of this review speaks more to established Elliott Smith fans than to those newly introduced to Smith and looking to find a good starter album. But I think that is the nature of Elliott Smith: he either speaks straight to your heart or he doesn’t, and if he does, the nature of the feeling is hard to explain. Try listening to “Elliott Smith” late at night, in a solitary drive over the loneliest part of town. If Smith *does* speak to your heart, you’ll find this to be the most perfect setting, and the experience will allow you to feel both the depths of Smith’s depression and the highs of his musical genius.

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