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music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: XO

Artist: Elliott Smith
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: August 1998

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

This is one that might take a few listens to get into but is worth the effort. Getting nominated for an Academy Award for Miss Misery from Good Will Hunting apparently hasn't gone to Elliot's head. He's as unassuming and depressed as ever. The low-fi approach is clearly an intentional ploy to draw the listener in to his stories of dysfunctional people and relationship and it works. If you saw Elliot's grunge rock version of Waltz #2 on Saturday Night Live, you know he can make a much harder sound. XO has a mellow beauty and when the tempo picks up on Bled White and A Question Mark, it gets your attention. The musical settings are interesting and appropriate. The waltz in Waltz #2 fits the narrator's tale of circling round and round the memory of a lost love. You can call him mysogynist on songs like the misleading benign sounding Baby Britain but the women in his songs aren't any more screwed up than Smith is.

Review by MusicBox
3½ stars out of 4

Elliott Smith is most well known for his exquisite guitar playing and saddening lyrics. XO is no exception from the norm for Smith. He has once again produced an album that will draw such emotions from you it will make you cry. Although XO's songs are not very radio-friendly, Smith has gained fame with his first single "Waltz #2" through MTV and other appearances such as NBC's Saturday Night Live. "Waltz #2" is probably the most upbeat song Smith has produced. It is a welcome break, stuck between the angst-ridden "Sweet Adeline" and the skeptical "Baby Britain." On the only acapella ballad of the album, Smith shares his criticisms of the world and you'll hardly notice the line "what a fucking joke" as it's being sung by Smith in his amazing voice. Floating somewhere between pop and folk, Elliott Smith is perhaps on of the most magnificent singer/songwriters of our time. If you like Jude or Rufus Wainwright, you will probably find Smith's music and lyrics addicting.

Here's what others reviewers have to say:

Ranked #2 on Spin's list of "Top 20 Albums of '98."  Spin  1/99, p.91

"...his most adventurous music ever, opening up his acoustic flow with piano, horns, vocal overdubs, even a string section. Smith still has a love jones, and he's still a heartache looking for a place to happen...  3.5 Stars (out of 5)" Rolling Stone  9/3/98, pp.98-100



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