Roman Candle (album)

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Roman Candle
Studio album by Elliott Smith
Released July 14, 1994
Recorded Late 1993
Genre Lo-fi, indie folk
Length 30:28
Label Cavity Search
Producer Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith chronology
Roman Candle
(1994)
Elliott Smith
(1995)

Roman Candle is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, recorded late 1993 and released on July 14, 1994 through record label Cavity Search.

Background[edit]

Roman Candle was recorded and released while Elliott Smith was still in Heatmiser.[1] According to Benjamin Nugent's biography Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing, Elliott recorded the album in the basement of the home of then-girlfriend and Heatmiser manager J.J. Gonson.[1] The front cover features a photograph taken by Gonson of Neil Gust (of Heatmiser) and Amy Dalsimer. Smith chose the image because he "liked the way the picture looked as a 'piece of art'".[1]

The album has a raw, homemade sound (see lo-fi music), with Smith playing each instrument and recording it on his four-track recorder.[2]

The album was never intended for release, as Smith only expected to get a deal for a seven-inch record;[1] however, after Gonson played the album for Cavity Search Records, they immediately requested permission to release it in its entirety.[1] Smith at first hesitated, and then allowed permission.[1]

Release[edit]

Roman Candle was released on July 14, 1994, through record label Cavity Search. According to Benjamin Nugent, the response to Roman Candle was mixed, with some passing it off as being derivative of Simon & Garfunkel.[1]

Roman Candle was re-issued on April 6, 2010, through Kill Rock Stars, and now with a US vinyl release. It was remastered by Larry Crane, with the original mixes by Elliott Smith remaining intact. On the official press release on sweetadeline.net, Larry Crane said of the remaster:

The intention that I had was to make the album more listenable. I felt that a lot of the guitar "squeaks" were jarring and very loud, and that many of the hard consonants and "s" sounds were jarring and scratchy sounding. I felt by reducing these noises that the music would become more inviting and the sound would serve the songs better. When I went to Roger Seibel's SAE Mastering, he proceeded to equalize the tracks a small amount and to make the volume slightly louder. We never tried to make this CD as loud as current, over-limited trends, but just to match the volume of the rest of Elliott's KRS catalog in a graceful way. Please note that none of this album is "remixed" from the master tapes – it is still composed of the mixes Elliott created himself.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[2]
BBC favourable[4]
Consequence of Sound 4/5 stars[5]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[6]
Filter 85%[7]
NME 6/10[8]
Pitchfork 7.8/10[9]
PopMatters 8/10[10]
Record Collector 3/5 stars[11]
Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[12]

Roman Candle has been well received by critics.

In their retrospective review, BBC opined that the album "remains a searingly honest and decisive collection. As a genesis of exceptional talent it is flawless, and heartbreakingly so."[4] Consequence of Sound called the album "far from a genius effort, but nonetheless an important solo performance pointing towards where his many strengths and few weaknesses as a singer and songwriter were."[5]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Elliott Smith, except "No Name #1", written by Smith and J.J. Gonson. 

No. Title Length
1. "Roman Candle"   3:37
2. "Condor Ave."   3:34
3. "No Name #1"   3:03
4. "No Name #2"   3:34
5. "No Name #3"   3:13
6. "Drive All Over Town"   2:36
7. "No Name #4"   2:30
8. "Last Call"   4:38
9. "Kiwi Maddog 20/20"   3:40

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel
  • Kid Tulsa – snare and cymbal ("No Name #1", "Kiwi Maddog 20/20")
Technical
  • Tony Lashmixing assistance
  • Neil Gust – sleeve design and photography
  • JJ Gonson – album cover photography
  • Peter Hawkinson – technician

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Nugent, Benjamin (2004). Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81447-1. 
  2. ^ a b Cater, Darryl. "Roman Candle – Elliott Smith : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Sweet Adeline | Roman Candle". Sweet Adeline. Retrieved December 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Skinner, James (March 29, 2010). "BBC – Music – Review of Elliott Smith – Roman Candle". BBC. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Persson, Jesper (April 23, 2010). "Album Review: Elliott Smith – Roman Candle [Reissue] | Consequence of Sound". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  6. ^ Ashurst, Hari (April 1, 2010). "Elliott Smith – Roman Candle (Reissue) / Releases / Releases // Drowned in Sound". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  7. ^ Brown, Jeffrey (March 30, 2010). "Filter Magazine – Reviews – Elliott Smith". Filter. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  8. ^ "NME Album Reviews – Roman Candle / Elliott Smith – nme.com". NME. June 30, 1998. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ Greene, Jayson. "Elliott Smith: Roman Candle / From a Basement on the Hill | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ Ramirez, AJ (April 16, 2010). "Elliott Smith: Roman Candle / From a Basement on the Hill | PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  11. ^ Kennedy, Jake. "Roman Candle –Elliott Smith |". Record Collector. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Elliott Smith: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 

External links[edit]