Roman Candle review by Elliott Smith

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1994
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 10 (8 votes)
Elliott Smith: Roman Candle

Sound — 10
This album was recorded on a four track in a basement, and the songs were only meant to be acoustic demos for Elliott's band Heatmiser. Due to encouragement from friends it was sent to a local indie label and released. It is recorded with an acoustic guitar and some occasional soft snare drumming, apart from the last track which is an instrumental with full instrumentation. Features his trademark beautiful guitar plucking technique and the basic production creates a very intimate feeling, like he's playing right in font of you.

Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are amazing, largely about loneliness and iolation. These themes are perfectly suited to the sparse guitar plucking. The haunting, whispered vocals also add to this dark mood, but no words can describe his voice. It wavers betwen being floating and beautiful to being angry and slightly grating. There is a lot of anger in some of the lyrics, such as in the title track when elliott sings "I want to hurt him, I want to give him pain, I'm a roman candle, my head is full of flames". Double tracked vocals are also used to good effect in some songs.

Overall Impression — 10
Comparisons to Nick Drake's 'Pink Moon' can not be avoided when referring to Elliott's early work. The guitar style and singing is uncannily similar, and both albums deal with similar themes. All the songs except for the instrumental 'Kiwi Maddog 20/20' (which is good as far as instrumentals go) are amazing. However, my personal favourites are Roman Candle, No Name #1, No Name #4, and Last Call. I love the lyrics and the intimacy of this album, it seems to talk to me a lot more than other music can. If it were lost I would buy it again the moment I realised I'd lost it. If it was stolen then I would hunt down the thief and get it back then extract a terrible revenge on him.

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    I, also, would extract terrible revenge on anyone to steal ANY of my Elliott Smith music.