Elliott Smith - Xo

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:1999-03-20

On XO, Elliott Smith leaves the indie doldrums behind and takes wing to new, lush surroundings. By adding full instrumentation to his acoustic reveries, Smith has ascended to a new level of song-writing that shores up his gentle voice and country-tinged guitar playing with extra layers of vocal arrangements and charming piano vamps. Strains of classic rock filter into the Beatlesque "Baby Britain" and the Beach Boys-inspired "I Didn't Understand"- but Smith succeeds in adapting them to his style rather than the other way around. A foot soldier in DreamWorks' war on standard-issue rock & roll, Smith joins new label mates Rufus Wainwright and Morphine as sophisticated interpreters of the new male psyche. XO is a stunning shadow print of a soul adrift in the music industry, a dark place indeed. --Lois Maffeo

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