PRINT Summer 1997


Elliott Smith

A beaten poet with a gentle, nicotine-stained rasp of a voice, the keen eye of a gifted storyteller, and a deeply romantic spirit, Elliott Smith fits the textbook description of the finger-picking folk hero and has come to play that role in the indie-rock circles he travels. But Smith’s music is equally indebted to the moody blues of Ray Davies’ “Waterloo Sunset” and Big Star’s Third. Even the roughest, home-recorded cuts on Either/or are buoyed by the loose patter of drums and harmonies that betray a McCartneyesque sense of melody, reminiscent at times of Tim Buckley or Nick Drake. On last year’s Elliott Smith (Kill Rock Stars), the Portland, Oregon–based Smith, who also plays rock guitar in Heatmiser, seemed all too ready to follow in Buckley’s tragic footsteps. Either/or finds him “in love with the world through the eyes of a girl,” disowning a junkie friend (“Ballad of Big Nothing”), and beginning to recast the myth of the troubled troubadour as a survivor’s tale.

Matt Ashare