Elliott Smith - From a Basement on the Hill
One year on from Elliott Smith's tragic death, there's still no agreement on whether the troubled American songwriter stabbed himself or was murdered. So it's likely that many of his fans will be curious to hear how much his last album sounds like a suicide note (answer: a lot). Far more important, however, is the fact that this record contains some of the most sublime music of Smith's frustratingly erratic career. On about half of the 15 tracks here, gut-wrenching lyrics about depression, addiction and isolation are matched with skewed melodies that would have grace the Beatles' white album. The rest is made up of murky rock-outs, with eerie sound effects and ghostly voices that send a chill up the spine. From a Basement on the Hill is by no means easy listening, but it's a fitting epitaph to a talent that left us far too early. Let's hope he's found peace at last.
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