Album review: “Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith”

by Jon E. Lynch

Various Artists, “Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith”

Available: Friday, Oct. 14 via American Laundromat Records as a cassette, CD and translucent blue vinyl LP that comes with a digital download of the album.

I had a tough stretch of birthdays in the early oughts. Not because I have or had some issue with advancing in age. Quite the opposite, really. I could give a shit. I look forward to relative senility and my ever-mounting excuses to embrace the curmudgeonly while muttering to no one in particular to “get offa my lawn!” when I’ve no lawn to begin with. No, my issues around my birthday are arbitrarily simple: Through a decent stretch of birthdays in the early ’00s, someone I cared about would die on or very near my birthday.

In the case of Elliott Smith, he died a couple days before my birthday. Media proliferation and succubus technology hadn’t drained our souls just yet, so I was informed of his passing on my birthday. I was pretty put off, obviously. I had been introduced to Smith early thanks to the ridiculously well-versed and knowledgeable DJs at KJHK, my beloved college radio station. Here, some of his contemporaries and admirers alike take on his songs. I looked forward to hear how Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis interpreted “Waltz #2.” I was less taken with Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer’s version of “Pictures of Me,” but, hey, that’s OK. I still have his original compositions to go back to, which is part of the joy of records such as these. The reluctant Smith may have scoffed at ANY adoration of his recordings, but these takes are homage with reverence.

For fans of cover albums, specifically those covering the songs of Elliott Smith. My favorite cuts include Tomo Nakayama’s take on “Miss Misery,” Waxahatchee slithering through a stellar version of “Angeles” and Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow stripping down “Division Day.”

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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