Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith


5.0
classic

Review

by Mike Allen USER (12 Reviews)
October 21st, 2011 | 24 replies | 2,627 views


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Now I'm a crashed credit card registered to Smith - Not the name that you called me with.

Despite all that has been written about Elliott Smith: the suffocating loneliness, consuming drug use, and turbulent childhood, it is quite possible that no one understood who he truly was. After all, it was the ambiguity in Smith’s music that brought about the relatable factor that we so often seek in singer/songwriters, even if the magnitude of the subject matter was much greater than anything we would ever experience. As demonstrated in his stint with Heatmiser, Smith was so far removed from mainstream society that his only consolation was to escape to his desolate solo material, almost less isolated without the band. This refusal to manage the limelight is what drove John Frusciante to his nearly decade-long heroine-driven depression, but while Frusciante had the support to overcome his predicament, Smith was unaided, or perhaps too far gone to come into the light. He was boxed in; music being the only channel by which to temporarily ease his anguish.

Smith’s self-titled release is the most “Elliott Smith” of all of his records, as it addresses every level and element of his misapprehended life. Much like its predecessor, Elliott Smith is as stripped down as it comes; predominately utilizing his acoustic guitar, unrefined production, and his hauntingly composed vocals. The combination of these aspects manufactures a release that is rawer than anything in recent memory. Although isolated and seemingly powerless to the world around him, Elliott Smith is a man cynical of those who have provoked him, whether it is the “back dream fuckers” of “Christian Brothers” or his abusive step-father. “Southern Belle” assesses his mother and stepfather’s relationship; accessing the pain of watching his harmless mother being battered by a man who would never own up to his abuse: “How come you’re not ashamed of what you are? And sorry, you’re the one that she’s got.” Tracks such as “Southern Belle” are what make Elliott Smith a harrowing and immensely difficult listen. For this very reason, Smith’s self-titled release takes some effort to eventually grasp. The bleak ambience is occasionally eased by tremendous melodies such as those implemented in “St. Ides Heaven,” “Coming Up Roses,” and “Clementine.” A staple of his solo work, Smith's vocal prowess was rooted in his ability to craft brilliantly complementing harmonies, bringing in a dimension of hope that could not be siphoned through his lyricism.

Never devoid of a potent moment, Elliott Smith culminates with the heartrending closer “The Biggest Lie,” where once again, that ambiguity surfaces. Built on the remains of a shattered relationship, “The Biggest Lie” climaxes with conceivably Smith’s most supreme lyrics: “Oh we’re so, very precious you and I, and everything that you do, makes me want to die. Oh, I just told the biggest lie.” Leaving the words open to interpretation, Smith exits Elliott Smith with a message that can easily be correlated to, even if we will never fully comprehend what is meant by “The Biggest Lie.” Just like how we will never fully understand Smith himself, even eight years removed from his agonizing death.

R.I.P. – 10/21/03



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Comments:Add a Comment 
mallen-
October 21st 2011


1235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

8 years : (

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011


10407 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

glory

Digging: Literature - Chorus

wabbit
October 21st 2011


6999 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

ilu

sixthgoldenticket
October 21st 2011


1176 Comments


review is so good

Adabelle
October 21st 2011


4257 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Didn't realise it was today, will play every album of his that I own tonight.

BigHans
October 21st 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great job Mike, good to see you back, RIP Elliott

foxblood
October 21st 2011


6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

his legacy lives on

CrisStyles
October 21st 2011


767 Comments


Great review man, I still need to listen to this, only listened to XO and Either/Or.

cvlts
October 21st 2011


8955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

was just spinnin this last night before bed.

absolutely amazing. tied with XO for best ES album.

Romulus
October 21st 2011


8434 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i want to know what the biggest lie is

for real at some point in my life i want to have an epiphany revealing to me what it is and then i will die happy

ShadowRemains
October 21st 2011


20694 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

amazin

Digging: Banks - Goddess

UPSMan
October 21st 2011


24 Comments


:cool:

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011


15975 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

one of the greatest songwriters of all time

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Gyromania
October 21st 2011


15685 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Christian Brothers" is astonishing. Great review, Mike.

ShadowRemains
October 21st 2011


20694 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and you think i ought to shake your motherfucking haaaaaand

Ire
October 21st 2011


41763 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

heart this

auberginedreams
October 21st 2011


6033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

RIP. This is my favorite Elliott Smith album. Kind of on the fence between a 4 and a 4.5. I could
never really get into Either/Or for some reason. I haven't really listened to any of the others though
tbh.

vanderlyle
October 21st 2011


156 Comments


I was listening to Elliott earlier and didn't even realise it was the day that it is. Jesus, the best go too soon.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
October 22nd 2011


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very nice tribute. I knew there was a reason I spun Either/Or earlier, I just couldn't put my finger on it. Gonna listen to this right now.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2011


15975 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Tracks such as “Southern Belle” are what present Elliott Smith with its harrowing and immensely difficult listen.

Seems a little awkwardly worded, unless I'm just reading it wrong. I would consider saying "are what make Elliott Smith such a harrowing and immensely difficult listen..."

A staple of his solo work, Smith vocal prowess was rooted in his ability

Smith's

Anyway, this was a nice review. I enjoyed reading it and it reminded me to listen to this album because tbh it has been a while since I have listened to any Smith, and when i do, I usually go to my default favorite, Figure 8



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