Elliott Smith (album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith (album).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 21, 1995
  • September 1994 at Tony Lash's house
  • January–February 1995 at Leslie Uppinghouse's house
LabelKill Rock Stars
ProducerElliott Smith
Elliott Smith chronology
Roman Candle
Elliott Smith
Singles from Elliott Smith
  1. "Needle in the Hay"
    Released: January 1, 1995

Elliott Smith is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. It was recorded from late 1994 to early 1995, and released on July 21, 1995, through Kill Rock Stars, his first album on the label. It was preceded by the single "Needle in the Hay", released in early January.


After being impressed by Smith, Mary Lou Lord invited him to tour with her, and helped him to sign to Kill Rock Stars.[1]


The album is of a similar musical style to Roman Candle in its minimalist, acoustic folk sound.[citation needed] Smith mostly appears alone on his acoustic guitar, although he is occasionally backed up by the odd musical instrument, such as a harmonica and drums.[2] Rolling Stone described the album thus: "the music burrows, digging up gems of structure, melody and lyrical vividness that belie his naïve delivery [...] the sound is hummable pop, slowed and drugged, with tricky but unshowy guitar work driving the melodies forward".[3]

The album's lyrics contain many references to drug use, which Smith claims are metaphorical. The album cover features a photograph by J. J. Gonson, who also photographed the cover for Roman Candle, depicting cut-out figures falling from buildings as if they were committing suicide.[1]

Thematically, Smith said that he "personally can't get more dark" than his self-titled album.[4]


"Needle in the Hay", the album's only single, was released early January, 1995.[5]

Elliott Smith was released on July 21 through Kill Rock Stars, making it his first full-length album on the label.[6] In contrast to Roman Candle, Elliott Smith was "promoted heavily", with posters of Smith appearing in the windows of record stores across the Northwest of Portland, Oregon, where Smith lived at the time.[1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
The Guardian4/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[9]

While not believed to have been reviewed by many, if any, critics at the time of its release, Elliott Smith has been critically well-received retrospectively. Steve Huey of AllMusic wrote "Elliott Smith contains the blueprint for his later successes, and more importantly, it's a fully-realized work itself."[2] Trouser Press described it as "Bleak, almost uncomfortably unsparing and yet tragically beautiful", and that "the songs, melodies, arrangements and production are all stronger and more fully realized than those on Roman Candle".[10]


Pitchfork rated "Needle in the Hay" as the twenty-seventh best song of the 1990s.[11] "Christian Brothers" has been covered by Queens of the Stone Age, with frontman Josh Homme emphasizing how much he loves the song.

Rolling Stone magazine described Smith as "ferociously talented", and the music as "some of the loveliest songs about the dissolution of a soul ever written [...] hypnotic and terribly, unrelentingly sad".[3]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Elliott Smith.

1."Needle in the Hay"4:16
2."Christian Brothers"4:30
4."Southern Belle"3:06
5."Single File"2:26
6."Coming Up Roses"3:10
8."Alphabet Town"4:11
9."St. Ides Heaven"3:00
10."Good to Go"2:24
11."The White Lady Loves You More"2:24
12."The Biggest Lie"2:39


  • Elliott Smith – vocals, acoustic guitars, drums (2, 6, 9), electric guitar (6, 7, 10), tambourine (3), air organ (6), harmonica (8), cello (11)
Additional personnel
  • Neil Gust – electric guitar ("Single File"), sleeve photography
  • Rebecca Gates – backing vocals ("St. Ides Heaven")
  • Leslie Uppinghouse – mixing assistance
  • Tony Lash – mixing assistance
  • JJ Gonson – cover photography


  1. ^ a b c Nugent, Benjamin (2004). Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81447-1.
  2. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Elliott Smith: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  4. ^ Peisner, David. "Elliott Smith Interview: Well Rounded Entertainment". Well Rounded Entertainment. Archived from the original on September 19, 2000. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "Needle in the Hay 7" | Kill Rock Stars". Bandcamp. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  6. ^ "Elliott Smith | Kill Rock Stars". Kill Rock Stars. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (August 7, 1998). "Pretty burns". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Martin, Gavin (August 1, 1998). "Elliott Smith – Roman Candle / Elliott Smith". NME. Archived from the original on October 11, 2000. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  9. ^ Berger, Arion (2004). "Elliott Smith". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 750–51. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  10. ^ Azerrad, Michael; Robbins, Ira. "TrouserPress.com :: Heatmiser". Trouser Press. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  11. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 50–21 | Features | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. September 2, 2010. Retrieved April 13, 2013.

External links[edit]