Sound — 9
This album, as with all of Elliott Smith's early solo work, is relatively simple with an acoustic guitar, his voice, sparse drums, and bass on certain tracks. But this is the reason I adore it and the reason the music is so timeless and emotive. Elliott understood how affecting and touching simple arrangements can be and flourished within those confines, also the fact that a lot of these recordings were made outside the studio makes everything so intimate it's almost breathtaking at times. The guitar playing is very good techincally as heard on 'Angeles' among others, and brilliantly complements his voice, especially effective on the sad, sober melodies. Former Heatmiser bandmates and various friends helped out with instrumentation, but this is Elliott's show.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are what distinguish Elliott from his contemporaries and put him along side legends. The lyrics on this album seem like they're being whispered in your ear and you experience everything Elliott's going through in beautiful, ethereal fashion. The content of the lyrics are so vivid and poignant that they touch you in a way I've never experienced before maybe with the exception of Nick Drake. 'Say Yes' is a stunning encapsulation of romance and naivety, 'Between The Bars' laments the rigours of everyday life and pines for a simpler life, to fulfill your dreams. Every single song is an emotional ride, which Elliott orchestrates magnificently and sucks the listener into his world, refusing to let go until the last note has been sung.
Overall Impression — 10
For me personally, this is his best work. There is something to be said for all his albums but I just feel this is so special and contains his most affecting, touching songs and makes you come back to it time after time. He's now getting the respect, admiration and praise he fully deserved and is touching lives all over the world, and it's due in no small part to this astonishing collection of songs, everyone moving in it's own way. Anyone who listens to this will have their own favourite part to it, a part that makes their spine tingle or lingers in their head long after the album's finished. There's a reason Elliott Smith is put up alongside Nick Drake, he's a genius.