a basement on the hill | elliott smith
emily blunt review
speaking? The death of super musician Elliott Smith is still a very raw piece
of pain, yet to be shunted from one's auditory vault.
despite the deluge of suicide hints within this album, Smith did not arrange these
songs as a "last message" to his fans. They already knew of his struggles
with depression and drugs. And it's true, Smith died before the cd's release.
But the album has really become a fifteen-song ode to Elliott if you will, its
tracks handpicked (and arranged) by family and close friends, after our loss,
from older and newer pieces he'd completed.
morbid knowledge aside, "from a basement on the hill" holds simply some
of Elliott's sweetest and most touching - raw and powerful - works ever recorded.
Let this review ask you to forego the macabre real-life subtext surrounding Smith's
final release, and allow yourself to just enjoy an extraordinary talent's remarkable
work for the glorious and vibrant concert is really is.
track on "faboth" is so very different, yet still infused with Smith's
signature ability to share a close pureness. He had a way of melding and shaping
multiple themes of feeling. Like a craftsman with a block of cold marble, he'd
chip away to find the refreshing chords beneath and backbeats below, that ultimately
managed to crescendo with just the right amount of unique strokes illuminating
this singular talent's ear for giving a song and melody breath. Elliott was truly
an artist of word and sound.
exquisite lyrics always cut deep and come riddled with crests of a searching,
delicate, wounded soul. His incredible honesty and dissecting words awaken emotions
that had been floating dormant just above the mind's nervous system, once blissfully
en route to the heart. His notes and lyrics are like resuscitating breaths, stimulating
and reminding us of emotions we all share, but keep carefully shrouded.
And the music. The music is a ballet of different instruments finely orchestrated
that ignite that surreal lost world somewhere in our thoughts, where the heart
and emotion are still allowed to speak freely without regard to pride or fear.
is unfair to "highlight" any of these personal works. And Smith always
insisted his songs were not as personal as listeners thought - hmm. Still there
is an undeniable softness - a personal feel - to the tracks here especially. Both
Track 2, 'Let's Get Lost' and track 11, ' Last Hour' have a subtle weeping guitar
folded in with Smith's ethereal vocals that'll steal your heart, carefully wrap
it in a silk scarf-like blanket of sound, and allow it to gently sail away from
this world for awhile
Track 13, 'Memory Lane,' has an almost humorous, and
devilishly deliberate bipolar feel. Its lyrics tell a dark, slice-of-life, tale,
while the musical notes gleefully abound and dance a fluffy jig in determined
contrast to the lyrics
that's Elliott Smith. His many different wonderful
emotional rivers of a life that, musically, attempted to ebb away from his immeasurable
emotional pain - but ultimately could never quite catch that wave back to the
many of the indie-king's longtime followers will argue his X/O and Figure 8, cds
are still Smith's strongest (Eweee - hold it! That's positively the wrong
way to write it
). Er, they say the two are Smith's piece de resistances,
shall I say. But, "from a basement on the hill" is filled with haunting
and beautiful sonnet-esque thoughts within a spectacular symphony of sounds, that
truly spotlight Smith's inspiring and exquisite musicianship. It is rough and
gritty and oozing soul, yet his emotional carnival seems balanced with a reigning
jubilance hovering just about the gloom.
you're new to Smith, you really need to buy his collection to get a true experience,
then turn it up and enjoy. Buy
Let's Get Lost
Pretty (Ugly Before)
Don't Go Down
Ostriches and Chirping
Reality is Now a Necessity to be Free