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Elliott Smith

4.7 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 21, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 21, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Kill Rock Stars
  • ASIN: B00000373G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,974 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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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Format: Audio CD
the picture on the front of the album is how i feel when i listen to this cd. just freefalling to the bitter voice of elliot smith whispering "you can do it if you want to" in my ear. after i bought xo this was my next album and i'll say this now... i love love love love this album. the only album that even comes close to this in my favourites is either/or or ok computer by radiohead. but more on this album. it starts off with a simple song called needle in the hay. but simplicity is bliss! i would walk as many blocks as it would take simply to tell elliot how much i love this album. he fleshes out his usually sparse songs later on with coming up roses which always hits me when he says "i'm a junkyard full of false starts..." amazing! you can connect with it immediately. there really is nothing this man cannot do with a guitar wrenching emotions out of it simply by plucking the strings. although not a big step away from roman candle it's much stronger songwriting wise with some drums adding to the ambience usually provided simply by acoustic guitar. the only complaint about this album is length. clocking in at just over thirty seven minutes but it can feel like forever with a simple touch of the repeat button. i wish i could make something that would connect with someone as strongly as s/t has connected with me. although not a big fan of drugs and alcohol i have friends who are and these songs remind me of that. once again elliot outdoes himself which he would do again with either/or and xo.
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