In House #1867: Elliott Smith's New Moon; New Jason Collett, Page France
It's been over three years since the mysterious and untimely death of Elliott Smith, and almost four years since his last public performance at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It's easy to romanticize and martyr Smith-- the delicacy of his music and often dark intimacy of his words lend themselves to an Earthly afterlife reserved for the likes of Cobain and Drake, Morrison and Joplin. That's unfortunate because it's a largely contrived and easy myth that begins to inaccurately define Smith and his work, much like it does these artists before him. What tends to be lost in all of this storytelling about the musician, ironically, is the music itself.
Out this week on the label that released some of Smith's most revered work (kill rock stars), New Moon features two discs and twenty-four tracks worth of material culled from outtakes, demos, and home recordings made during his most consistently brilliant period, 1994-1997. These were years spent in Portland near the end of his involvement with Heatmiser that saw him creating the DNA for what would later become his first two releases, Elliott Smith and either/or, each held in high regard but particularly so for fans of Smith's less polished, less produced material. There are early versions of songs here that would become well-known later on, including unadorned takes on "Miss Misery," and "Pretty Mary K," as well as some diamonds in the rough (ocasionally, very rough) like "High Times," "Whatever (Folk Song in C)," and the Americana-leaning "Georgia Georgia." Also included is a stunning version of Big Star's "Thirteen," previously made available on the soundtrack to the film Thumbsucker. New Moon is a welcome reminder, however bittersweet, of the rare and affecting quality of Smith's work, and another testament to the argument that he was the greatest songwriter of his generation. In as much as that matters.
In House #1867.
Focus: New posthumous two-disc collection from Elliott Smith, New Moon, plus a new EP from Jason Collett and new music from Page France, Shannon Wright, and more.
In House PODCAST #308