Elliott Smith - Roman Candle

Reshaping delicate, unintentional origins

In interviews to promote the final
release of his lifetime, 2000’s
Figure 8, Elliott Smith stated his
albums could at the time easily
divide into either “metal” or
“acoustic” sides. In 1994,
however, he was every bit the
campus troubadour, battling to
find his voice and perhaps a
break from the day job in Oregon
rockers Heatmiser.

Smith sent this selection of
nine demos to Portland’s
Cavity Search with a view to getting a 7” pressed up. An
obvious choice would have
been the title track, a seething
attack on an unnamed
wrongdoer who the usually
placid Smith wanted “to hurt”.
Deciding on a single was not a
problem, however, as label
boss Christopher Cropper
released the album as was
(four tracks remain untitled).
Being demos, then, this has
always been lo-fidelity but,
thankfully, Smith archivist
Roger Seibel has now
sympathetically taken out the
top end to make the package
more in keeping with say,
Smith’s third album, Either/Or.

As a meticulous worker,
Smith never intended these
demos to turn into an LP, and,
somewhat sadly, little matches
the quality or accomplished
construction of later work. But
Roman Candle endures
stylishly nonetheless, and is
invigorated by this careful

3 stars 3 stars 3 stars

Domino | REWIGCD 75

Reviewed by Jake Kennedy
<< Back to Issue 375