(Written with assistance of ChatGPT)
Elliott Smith's "New Moon" (2007) is a posthumous collection of previously unreleased tracks that offers a poignant and intimate glimpse into the late artist's soul. This album, released after his tragic death in 2003, beautifully encapsulates the raw, unfiltered essence of Smith's songwriting prowess and emotional depth.
The album opens with "Angel in the Snow," a gentle acoustic ballad that sets the tone for what's to come. Smith's hushed vocals and intricate finger-picking immediately draw you in, creating an atmosphere of quiet introspection. Throughout "New Moon," Smith's signature finger-style guitar work is on full display, showcasing his virtuosity and ability to convey complex emotions through his instrument.
One of the standout tracks is "Miss Misery (Early Version)," a stripped-down rendition of the Oscar-nominated song from the "Good Will Hunting" soundtrack. The rawness of this version brings out a vulnerability that's absent in the more polished original, making it a true gem for longtime fans.
Smith's lyrical prowess shines brightly throughout the album. His lyrics are often introspective and melancholic, exploring themes of love, heartache, and self-doubt. In tracks like "High Times" and "Riot Coming," Smith's words cut deep, evoking a sense of empathy and understanding that's characteristic of his songwriting.
"New Moon" also offers a glimpse into Smith's diverse musical influences. From the country-tinged "New Monkey" to the Beatlesque "Thirteen" cover, he showcases his ability to adapt his style while maintaining his signature sound. This versatility is a testament to his musical range and innovation.
The album's production quality varies due to its collection of unreleased material. Some tracks, like "Going Nowhere" and "Georgia, Georgia," possess a raw, lo-fi quality that adds to the album's intimacy. Others, like "First Timer" and "Looking Over My Shoulder," feature more polished production, giving a sense of Smith's evolving artistry over the years.
One of the most touching aspects of "New Moon" is the inclusion of Smith's studio banter and introspective musings between tracks. These candid moments offer a glimpse into the artist's creative process and add a layer of authenticity to the album, making it feel like a personal conversation with Smith himself.
However, it's important to note that "New Moon" may not be the ideal starting point for newcomers to Elliott Smith's music. It lacks the cohesion and accessibility of some of his more renowned albums like "Either/Or" or "XO." Nevertheless, for longtime fans, it serves as a treasure trove of unreleased material that deepens their understanding of Smith's genius.
In conclusion, "New Moon" is a bittersweet gift to Elliott Smith's dedicated following. It's a poignant reminder of his remarkable talent and the profound impact he had on the indie folk music scene. While not a flawless collection, it's a testament to the enduring power of his music and his ability to touch hearts with his emotive lyrics and melodies. Listening to "New Moon" is like reconnecting with an old friend, offering solace and comfort in the familiar warmth of Elliott Smith's musical embrace.
Shannon McDowell and ChatGPT