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XO

177 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 25, 1998
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Audio, Cassette, August 25, 1998
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$7.39 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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XO + Either / Or + Figure 8
Price for all three: $36.41

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

On XO, Elliott Smith leaves the indie doldrums behind and takes wing to new, lush surroundings. By adding full instrumentation to his acoustic reveries, Smith has ascended to a new level of songwriting that shores up his gentle voice and country-tinged guitar playing with extra layers of vocal arrangements and charming piano vamps. Strains of classic rock filter into the Beatlesque "Baby Britain" and the Beach Boys-inspired "I Didn't Understand," but Smith succeeds in adapting them to his style rather than the other way around. A foot soldier in DreamWorks' war on standard-issue rock & roll, Smith joins new label mates Rufus Wainwright and Morphine as sophisticated interpreters of the new male psyche. XO is a stunning shadow print of a soul adrift in the music industry, a dark place indeed. --Lois Maffeo

Review

XO ... features [Elliott Smith's] most adventurous music ever, opening up his acoustic flow with piano, horns, vocal overdubs, even a string section. -- Rolling Stone

XO is Smith's major-label debut, and instead of opting to become the new Richard Marx for the occasion--something that might have suited him--he's chosen idiosyncratic new Domino signings Quasi as his backing band. Compared with the sparseness of his debut "Roman Candle," even that's a commercial extravagance--piano, brass and flute plumping up these skinny songs like a shot of steroids. -- New Musical Express

Even though he's a master melodist, he's too modest to shove his tunes in your face; they just hang around like stray dogs shown kindness for the first time.… -- Spin

For better and sometimes for worse, Smith ... gives voice to his generation's romantic cynicism and diminished expectations. -- Entertainment Weekly

Modestly dramatic musical shifts ... push XO leaps and bounds beyond his previous work.... Smith's orchestral maneuvers compose a flowery pop symphony. From the choral-like harmonies ... to the richly textured ambience of Baby Britain... Smith recalls the best of the late-era Beatles, Badfinger and the Zombies. -- No Depression

With his unusual gift for melody amid a melody-poor generation of rockers, Mr. Smith may be the most fully formed singer-songwriter to come along since Elvis Costello.... -- The New York Times

[Elliott Smith's] beautifully orchestrated pop radiates a humming energy, countering a breathy, anemic voice that perfectly conveys ... intimate and morose sentiments.... -- USA Today


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Sweet Adeline 3:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Tomorrow Tomorrow 3:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Waltz #2 (XO) 4:40$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. Baby Britain (Album Version) 3:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Pitseleh 3:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Independence Day 3:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Bled White 3:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Waltz #1 3:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Amity 2:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Oh Well, OK 2:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Bottle Up And Explode! 2:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. A Question Mark 2:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands 4:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. I Didn't Understand 2:17$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 25, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: August 25, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Geffen
  • ASIN: B00000AEF9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,086 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By R.M. on January 4, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The first album I ever heard of Elliot Smith was from the movie "Keeping the Faith." It was his song "pitseleh", from his album XO. This was enough to make me go out and buy the album, and I have yet to be disappointed.
There are two things that make this musician stand out in a crowd. First comes his incredible music. His harmonic textures and rhythmic off-beating constantly combine to create a much needed breath of fresh air in this bubblegum pop world. I didn't realize how tired I was of the same old songs (and the same boring song form, ABA) until I listened to Elliot, and found his songs so beautiful in their difference. Second, his lyrics are extremely beautiful and very well crafted. This is not easy pop with lyrics that don't mean anything important (or are already familiar because they say the exact same thing as every other pop band). Elliot tackles hard subjects such as depression and lonliness, and yet can balance it out with a song about personal change from something ugly into something beautiful ("independence day").
So it comes to this: though it's not quite polished, and can sometimes be a bit inscrutable, Elliot Smith's music is profound nonetheless. XO is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of this and well worth anything you pay for it.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lesley Freitas on July 8, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Perhaps the best thing about "XO" is that we get to see Elliott Smith very clearly demonstrating the true range and depth of his talent. As amazing as "Roman Candle," "Elliott Smith," and "Either/or" are--and indeed, they are my favorite Elliott Smith albums--those albums require the listener to truly immerse himself in the music; special attention needs to be paid to all the quiet subtleties, or else much of the beauty and uniqueness can be lost. Smith's earlier albums require a desire on the listener's part to let the music bloom in all its glory; "XO" blossoms on first listen.

"XO" clearly stands out from Smith's previous work, simply based on how much production went into the album; no one could ever accuse "Roman Candle," "Elliott Smith," or "Either/or" of being over-produced. But I also think it would be a mistake to call "XO" overproduced. The rawness and urgency of Smith's music are not glossed over, which is generally what is meant when an album is accused of being overproduced. Instead, Smith's increased resources allow him to bring layers to his music that highlight--rather than detract from--the heart of his songs.

Songs such as "Waltz #1" and "Oh Well, Okay" demonstrate this point perfectly. These songs have all the lyrical and musical integrity and richness of Smith's earlier work, yet he simply could not have produced them earlier, particularly in the case of "Waltz #1." In spirit, however, these two songs--as well as the majority of the album--are a perfect continuation of Smith's work. That they are "fuller" songs, at least musically, allows Smith's talent to be more open and upfront, yet they still retain a certain quietness and subtlety.

Several songs stand out as noticeably different from Smith's earlier work, however.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Josh Rothman on May 3, 2000
Format: Audio CD
After listening to Roman Candle I went out and bought XO, Figure 8 and Either/Or on the same day. Since I've spent the last week listening to the bunch of them non-stop, I can say this: XO is an excellent record - but not quite as excellent as the ones on either side of it.
To me, this record feels like R.E.M.'s "Monster" or Archer Prewitt's "White Sky," a transition record setting the scene for something greater. There're a lot of great songs on here, and they're full of all of Smith's trademarks; even the simplest phrases ("She looks so composed/So she is, I suppose") are cleverly delivered and beautiful in their simplicity. But there're also a lot of over-production which relies too much on the arrangement and not enough on the quiet passion or feeling which makes Elliott Smith the man. People here are saying that Elliott Smith is like the new Nick Drake, but Drake would never have produced a song like "Baby Britain," which is campy and unconvincing, even as though it's fun and has a neat-o harpsichord accent in the bridge. He hits the mark on songs like "Tomorrow, Tomorrow" or "Pitseleh," and I really like "Independence Day," but songs like "Amity" leave you feeling like you've just heard a B-side or an experiment, not a finished track. They're more produced than his other songs, but there's something lacking in the delivery or the songwriting. When Smith's not as his very, very best, he gets smothered under all his production. Sometimes it's lovely, as on "Bled White," but sometimes it's unnecessary, as on "Amity."
All the greatness-that-could-have-been on XO is realized on Figure 8, a real five-star record. I say, buy Figure 8 or one of Smith's earlier records before you buy XO. I listen to this CD all the time, but I listen to the others more, and I care about them more, too. I'd lend XO to a friend, I'd keep the others to myself.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mark VINE VOICE on January 12, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Did this guy know how to write catchy hooks or what? Did this guy have a PROFOUND sense of melody and harmony or what?

I suppose I'd heard Elliott Smith at one time or another, possibly took note when watching The Royal Tennenbaums. But I really didn't know who this guy was until recently. I started hearing his name again and again though I can't recall where.

Now, I've been buying and playing music for about 36 years - my first Lp purchase was The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. My tastes range from the Fab Four to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, King Crimson, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Tom Waits and so on. I like just about anything as long as it comes from the heart.

But I digress. I finally got around to purchasing an Elliott Smith CD - XO. Oh I agonized over whether to buy it, I'd never heard the guy, should I spend the 15 bucks on a guy I've never even heard or play it safe and buy that U2 collection?

Wow!!! I am so glad I purchased this CD! There is not one stinker track, it's all very skilled, wonderfully executed song writing. This is one of the best sessions I have ever heard, it is worth every penny! Don't agonize over it - Buy it! In a way, I'm glad I didn't discover Elliott Smith before he died, I would have been heartbroken. Waltz #1 is one of the most poinantly beautiful things these ears have ever heard and then it's followed by the rocker Amity - somehow it works. Elliot really was amazing!

Everytime I listen to XO I think I have picked a favorite track, then on the next listen it's a new favorite track and then on the next listen... and so it goes.

Don't just just sit there! Start clicking, buy it!
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