Monday, November 16, 2015

Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith's second album, released in 1995, is very much in the mould of his first (Roman Candle), consisting mainly of stripped down, acoustic based songs.  It opens with the scratchy, whispering Needle In The Hay, a tense, uncompromising acoustic song.  The empathetic, downcast guitars of the almost vengeful Christian Brothers follows.  Tracks like these are, if anything, stronger than anything on Roman Candle.  This album, however is less consistent, not maintaining such high quality right through.  That's not to say there aren't strong songs - the rolling, enchanting guitars of Single File complement the slow drift of Satellite.

The songs are kind of equal parts wide-eyed innocence and deeply troubled, and if that sounds like a contradiction it probably is.  Lyrics about how "the moon is a sickle cell, it'll kill you in time" (Coming Up Roses) are a prime example of this.  St Ides Heaven feels a little like Nirvana at their most basic and stripped down, while Good To Go has a more seventies singer/songwriter feel.  Towards the end, The White Lady Loves You More is a bit of a departure, feeling almost symphonic, despite the troubling subject matter.  But a really strong album for the most part.