Without going into the clichÃ©s of dead artists and the true merit of their genius and all that, the reissue of Roman Candle reminds avid fans of Elliott Smith how well this 1994 solo debut record has aged.
From the opening disdaining whisper of the title track, it doesn’t take long to realise just how close Smith was to his demons before he took his own life.
It’s hard to imagine, with the exception of John Lennon perhaps, any other artist that could float a melody with such ease behind a simple guitar strum. As Smith’s voice weaves behind his intricate acoustic playing, you can hear weight of the world resting on his shoulders in numbers like, -No Name # 3′, as he sings: ‘Watched the dying day/ blushing in the sky.’
With his signature style evident in his acoustic songs, this record also sets the stage up for the George Harrison-like electric sound that would dominate the guitar playing on his later records, most notably the meandering sweet instrumental: -Kiwwi Maddog’.
It’s Smith’s brutal, heartbreaking honesty on Roman Candle which make the songs at times hard to listen to without getting a little emotional, particularly -Last Call’ where he screams with resentment to the end: ‘I wanted her to tell me that she’d never wake me.’ Perhaps the last line, now is as poignant as ever, all these years later: ‘I’m lying here waiting for sleep to overtake me.’