Timed neither to coincide with key dates like his birth or death, or anniversaries like his debut album release, An Introduction To Elliott Smith seems to be both surprising and long overdue. The late American songwriter beloved by many fans is seeing the light of his legacy stoked with a taster collection sampling from his sublime catalog. Some fans may scoff at this assertion (they own the songs already anyway) or dismiss the set for failing to include their favourite song (like 'Son Of Sam', etc.)
The record combines fourteen tracks from his six studio albums and a couple of singles with a focus on the 1997 release, Either/Or, and film songs like 'Miss Misery'. Smith would inspire legions of songwriters and is known for having a few things in common with Nick Drake – most noticeably his playing style and penchant for lyrical weightiness.
His signature whispery delivery is particularly prevalent on 'Between The Bars', a song that is almost ghost-like and ethereal given what would subsequently happen. 'Needle In The Hay', meanwhile, has a grunge feel and is like a flow-on from Nirvana's 'Something In The Way'. But for typical Smith you need look no further than 'Happiness', as it combines lush sonic landscapes and orchestration with under-stated acoustic guitar while he wears his heart prominently on his sleeve.
Elliott Smith was a tortured soul who had many tales of wounded hearts, addiction and woe. It was the kind of brutally honest stuff that is as meaningful today as the day he recorded it. As he struck a chord in the hearts and minds of listeners and musicians back then, this collection proves the textured sonic kaleidoscopes that take in the full breadth of human emotions will see his flame burning brightly for many more years to come. In short, this LP's recorded proof of how one man became a legendary author of a generation.