Happiness - Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith seems to float in and out of my life. I go through different Elliott phases- every couple months or so I get stuck on playing one of his albums on repeat. Though XO and Either/Or are close contenders, Figure 8 is my favorite of his albums. I’ve gotten crap for that, because as most people say, Elliott is brilliant without the production- quietly singing with his guitar. I recognize this, but he also has brilliant ideas of instrumentation and composition. His lyrics are more spare on this album, but look at Hemingway- succinctness can have a powerful impact, especially when it’s facing off with soaring instrumentals, which threaten to pull their listeners off the edge of the earth.
I’m posting “Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud,” because the way he dives into the chorus makes me catch my breath every time. I’m not sure if I’d say that it’s my favorite track, because honestly I’m almost in love with anticipating each song fading into the next, like movements making up a symphony. This album slowly takes you over, extending swirling tendrils throughout your body, which pull you in and hold you close.
Who would give someone crap for liking Figure 8 best? If I had to pick an album, I’d say this is his masterpiece. His extraordinary talent as a composer, musician and writer shines on it. He probably recorded most of the instrumentation himself and I’ll be forever in love with Autumn DeWilde’s artwork. Figure 8 is full of precious ideas, truly a world within a world. It’s the world to me. I’ve been listening to it continuously for almost nine years, as I have to all of his music. It will never leave me.