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Elliott Smith

New Moon (Kill Rock Stars)

A lot of posthumous albums seem like vain attempts to make a buck off the name of someone who died prematurely. To that end, Kill Rock Stars should be commended for its decision to wait four years to issue New Moon, a two-disc set of unreleased Elliott Smith songs. Recorded between 1994 and 1997, which is widely considered to be his most creative period, Moon reinforces how gifted Smith was as a songwriter. Even his castoffs are amazing. With a collection of songs that could have just as easily appeared on Either/Or and Elliott Smith, Smith's vocals shudder with a familiar shyness. Some sad highlights include "Georgia, Georgia," which teases the notion of suicide, and the eerie "See You Later," in which Smith says he'll "see you later, if at all." Knowing what we know now, the tone and the content reflect a guy who was wrestling demons long before his exit — and the mope factor here verges on overload. Get past that, though, and Moon serves as a nice reminder of Smith's significant talent.

 
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