Saturday, April 28, 2007

Reviews:: Elliott Smith New Moon

Sadly, any Elliott Smith record comes with a lot of emotional baggage. Obviously, his tragic life is nothing to be glossed over, but anyone who is a fan is a fan for a different reason. His music is as beautiful as it is dark, haunting and melancholic. That’s why, for me at least, the release of New Moon next Tuesday isn’t as compelling as it would have once been. A few years ago, if you had told me I’d have a chance to digest a double disc collection of rarities and b-sides from my favorite Elliott era – the Elliott Smith Either/Or era – I would have been lining up at the record store at 8:45AM.

There is no question the songs compiled on this collection are outstanding. Any of the tracks could have made the original albums, it’s just that the completion of From a Basement on a Hill was my closure for Elliott. There is so much sadness associated with his music and unfortunate passing that it really makes hard to really give these songs the time the deserve. Once you say goodbye, it’s hard to think of anything but old memories and the better times. Opening up new emotion is often too painful.

Knowing that they were written so long ago, and knowing how his life ended up make these glimpses into his future so much more poignant and powerful. There are lots standout tracks on this double LP – Georgia, Georgia is two-minutes of trademark Smith genius, the beautiful melody of Talking to Mary, the electric riff and uptempo drums of New Monkey, the childish emotions of love and hope on Thirteen– and some tracks that fans will relish (the eerily depressing, early version Miss Misery for one). A lot of these songs have been floating around for years from bootlegs and concerts (in crackled, bad recorded versions), but having them all in one great sounding collection is never a bad thing, especially when people who like Elliott, actually love Elliott.

This collection of songs is going to mean something different to everyone who listens, which is probably Smith’s greatest gift to the world of music. His music speaks to everyone’s hidden depressions. It’s a vice for some; a light for others. I remember staring dumbfounded as a guy I used to work with in a downtown Toronto corporate office told me Elliott’s music was the one thing he could count on when he was homeless at 15. There no way my emotional attachment to a musician compares to his story or the countless like it, so this record might be one last chance for a lot of people to say goodbye to a great musician, or revisit the emotions he brought out with every strum of his acoustic.

I’ve seen people posting MP3s all over the Net, but I really hope they reconsider. This record not only speaks to those battling depression and fractured lives, a significant portion of proceeds from the album sales will go directly to Outside In, a Portland-based social service organization dedicated to providing diverse services for homeless youth and low-income adults.

Kill Rock Stars is giving away one free track, but even if Elliott ever helped you when you felt hopeless or alone, you should buy this record to help those who still feel that way:
MP3:: High Times

Posted at 5:06 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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