Elliott Smith - From a Basement on a Hill - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Elliott Smith - From a Basement on a Hill

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:2004-10-18

There's always a stigma attached to posthumous albums; witness the releases of Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley, even Jimi Hendrix and see the formula repeat-most releases are of a standard far below the artist's established catalogue, but are lapped up eagerly by the devoted. The posthumous release of From a Basement on a Hill from Elliott Smith, a man so often on the cusp of commercial acceptance, means that this album, regardless of its quality, will always tagged his 'death disc'. The injustice is that it is without doubt the most enjoyable album that Smith ever produced. Sounding as potent as ever with his trademark sound (imagine George Harrison permanently fronting The Beatles, but with power chords), the opening rock 'n' roll crunch of "Coast To Coast" sets out the blueprint for this excellent album, taking in acoustic delicacy and squalling guitars in equal measure, offering only an ambiguous hint of his passing on "A Fond Farewell", but flooring the listener with its sheer brilliance. The collision of chaos and melodic beauty puts this album in the five-star bracket and should be heard by all rock-music fans; it's just a shame Elliot Smith isn't around to enjoy the acclaim. --Thom Allott

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