New Moon

Before “Miss Misery” took the Duncanville-raised singer Elliott Smith from indie cult to mainstream pop status, Smith fronted a band called Heatmiser, one of a hundred acts looking to be the next Nirvana. With his fragile voice and persona, Smith made an even more unlikely grunge rocker than Kurt Cobain. Though his band had success, Smith felt constrained and threw himself into a more intimate solo career; from 1994 to 1997, while his band was slowly dissolving, Smith recorded prolifically. He put out two of his own albums, but most of these sessions remained unreleased—until now. New Moon (Kill Rock Stars) presents a wealth of this material, posthumously released, over two CDs. While some of it has the feel of demos or of melodies that couldn’t quite find their way home, the bulk of what’s here is a real delight, particularly for those who prefer the charms of 1997’s Either/Or to the heavy-handed production of his later major-label efforts. Haunting, delicate, and altogether entrancing, Smith’s talents are stripped bare on New Moon, which offers a window into a genius we thought we’d never see again.

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