So I got home from work last night and as always, whilst making dinner decided to fire on some music. I usually take ages to decide what to listen to but for some reason last night I just grabbed the first thing that came to hand, which happened to be ‘New Moon’ by Elliott Smith. This is not a proper studio album which was released after his death and focuses on unreleased tracks taken from the period 1994-1997. So basically you’re talking about tunes written around the time of Either/Or. I think, and have always thought, that if you like Elliott Smith you fall into 1 of 2 camps. Camp 1 are the people who adore Either/Or and Camp 2 the people who adore XO. Now it’s totally possible to love both, I do, but I think XO is the pinnacle of his career. It’s also the first steps he took into a louder, fuller sound which produced the excellent Figure 8 and the potentially brilliant, though never completed by himself, From The Basement On The Hill. I for one love XO, I love it’s textures and layers, I love it’s changes of pace, and more than ever I love his voice. It’s an album that I could listen to over and over again. Whilst Either/Or is undoubtedly a brilliant piece of work, the changes of pace and direction on XO are stunning and his development as a musician from that point on really fascinated me. I never knew what to expect next and I love when an artist can create that excitement before a piece of work is released. No album is the same, sometimes things are bigger, sometimes fragile and tiny. Yet, in amongst the fuller sounds of Figure 8 and Basement, Smith’s vocals sound more fragile than ever.
I always regret that I never saw him live. Graeme reminds me regularly that he saw him on more than one occasion. He’s very lucky. I always wonder what would have come next. But I know deep down it would have been special. So yeah, I hadn’t planned to listen to Elliott Smith last night, but I’m glad I did.