It's been ten years since Elliott Smith checked out. I remember the news breaking, the grey October sky, the drizzle, the stench of bleach rising from the damp shop floor where I worked - a shattering feeling of disappointment. It was the bleak realisation that there would be no more great records or shows of his to look forward to anymore.
But it came as no real surprise. Here was an artist who regularly documented his torment in song, who battled his demons and eventually lost - stabbing himself in the chest twice with a knife. But the music he left behind is still as vital and engaging as ever.
Elliott Smith - Either/Or(Kill Rock Stars/Domino 1997). A stunningly beautiful and intimate, acoustic guitar-led masterpiece. The flawless songwriting and the up-close-and-personal Lo-Fi production make this album a treat from start to finish. The narratives are edgy and captivating, the melodies catchy and anthemic, the performance's so well delivered that you occasionally feel like Elliott's singing these songs directly to you. It's what makes Either/Or so compelling - a seductive combination of close mic'd, whispery, rich sounding, double tracked vocals and harmonies, stellar musicianship and a heavy dose of raw emotion. It's as close to perfect as anything you'll hear.