New Moon

Elliot Smith

Elliott Smith might have appreciated the irony. A songwriter who worked assiduously to avoid clichés in his lyrics turns himself into a cliché by committing suicide in sad imitation of a very old pop music story—tormented genius buckles under the strain of his own sensitivity. But Smith left behind a rich legacy of music, which has just expanded with the addition of these two dozen songs, most of them rough mixes made before his fame had spread beyond the Pacific Northwest where he got started in the early ‘90s. Elliot Smith filtered lots of ‘60s musical influences through his post-grunge moodiness. Some of the songs sound like The Beatles on Quaaludes, others like early James Taylor calling a suicide hotline, and still others sound like Nick Drake just being Nick Drake. But there is also something uniquely his own, and that something—the simplicity and the directness of the songs, the cleverness of the hooks, the ability to surprise and catch you off guard with the turn of a phrase—makes New Moon very much worth owning, and worth listening to with more than a casual ear. This is a voice from beyond the grave—honest, naked, and often brilliant.