Review Summary: Haunting and heartbreaking, Heaven Adores You is a compilation of Elliott's work like you've never heard before.
To encompass the entirety of Elliott Smith’s career into an album is a bold move. Here lies an artist beloved by many and recognized by few; an artist who possesses raw talent, unique music, and a connection with fans unlike anyone before, passed before his prime. Heaven Adores You
is more than a tribute—a celebration of the life of an artist who never saw the impact he made. The album is intended to be a journey through the era of Elliott Smith documenting his musical evolution until his untimely departure. Celebrating his career through music as well as film is a large project, and the album proves just that.
The album is meant just
for Elliott fans. Heaven Adores You
boasts a vast collection of tracks spanning across the entirety of his career. Numerous instrumentals display his signature finger-picking style as well as a few that play with electric guitars. The untitled instrumental tracks are little gems to say the least. They sound astonishing and fill the atmosphere with somber sounds only Elliott could orchestrate. The opening instrumental instantly places the image of Elliott sitting in a bar stool strumming his guitar into one’s mind, silently picking each note with conviction on a scale decorated with depression and mangled with misery.
‘Untitled Melancholy Song’ steps into a more modern format with a rhythm and lead section accompanied with overdriven guitars. The song has more of a bluesy vibe to it with bends and leads meshed into a grungy backdrop. The song is sure to please Elliott fans who long for a more modern style from Mister Misery. I also enjoy how the journey through Heaven Adores You
takes us to his Heatmiser days. ‘Christian Brothers’ is very refreshing to hear among the others. It’s mellow vibe and messy drop half-way through is exceptional to complement Elliott’s musical stages.
Early and live versions of notable tracks are equally as impressive. ‘The Last Hour’ is somber, delicate, and sure to appease any hardcore Elliott fan. ‘Waltz #1’ demo is sure to haunt any listener with its endless spiral. Just hearing the lyrics, “Every hour I used to cope to make the repetition stop; what was I supposed to say,” will remind listeners of their first experience with XO
. The acoustic version of ‘Son of Sam’ is sure to rival the original. Its deep chugging riff thumps through the ears as Elliott’s voice makes its grand entrance. The harmonica solo adds a whole new element to the song and serves as an intriguing listen for those who loved the original.
There’s something about ‘True Love’ that makes it my absolute favorite Elliott song. The opening riff is a slippery slope that sinks the listener into the most heartbreaking, soul-crushing, and sorrowful experience they will hear on this album. The song is agonizingly honest in a tale about drug addiction. “One day I got sick she played me a nasty old trick. Said, “I need cigarettes,” walked ‘round the block caught a cab,” is dauntingly captivating and is sung with such sentiment. The weeping guitar with a slight Spanish tone paints the canvas for this tale of woe in an atmosphere sure to make any Elliott fan breakdown.
“Take me up my Lord, take me up today. Take me out of this place, take me up with you today,” wrenches and twists as the song ends. ‘True Love’ is a song someone can feel. The lyrics are spoken in a way that perfectly displays the story before the eyes. I can almost see the rehab facility, the cab scene, and the honeymoon like a movie. There is no joy in this tale, however, just a garden of anguish for its listener.
Heaven Adores You
is a breathtaking experience for Elliott fans to indulge. The decadent selection of tracks decorates facets of Elliott Smith throughout his short life. The instrumentals are a constant reminder of a voice we will never hear again. They’re like speech with no words as they paint the illusion of a silent reflection performing. The songs were selected with care and are a great celebration for Elliott fans to appreciate the life and career of a musician who was extraordinary. Elliott was just a man with his guitar who made a name for himself town by town, city by city, before defining one of the greatest films of a generation.
I wish other songs like “Taking a Fall,” “No Confidence Man,” or “Twilight” made the cut, but I’m more than happy with the songs we have. The ever present memory of an unsolved death haunts everyone who listens to this album. The closing lines, “see you underneath the willow tree,” are a kick to the gut. Elliott Smith wrote the book on misery—a twisted tale about a hero who saved the day but could not save himself.
Son of Sam (Acoustic)
The Last Hour [Early Version]
Everything Means Nothing to Me
Christian Brothers [Performed with Heatmiser]
Waltz #1 (Demo)