Kudos to the Kill Rock Stars label for not trying to capitalize on Elliott Smith's way too early demise. (Smith died of stab wounds to the chest in October, 2003. It was unclear if the wounds were self-inflicted.) It seems that a lot of posthumous albums are vain attempts made in boardrooms to make a buck off the name of someone who died prematurely, but the four-year wait should dismiss any of those dollar-sign accusations. New Moon is a collection of 24 cuts recorded between 1994 and 1997, which most consider to be Smith's most creative period. In listening to these, we're reminded that Smith was extremely gifted, as even his scrapped material shows. Most songwriters would love to be able to write a song with Smith's passion. Songs here sound very much like the work off of Either/Or and Elliott Smith his bare-bones voice still shudders with shyness, and the acoustic guitar plays a prominent role. Some sad highlights: “Georgia, Georgia,” in which he teases the notion of suicide, and the eerie “See You Later,” in which Smith says he'll “see you later, if at all.” Knowing what we know now, the tone and the content reflect a guy who was wrestling demons long before his exit. The mope factor is on extreme overload, but get past that and this collection is a nice reminder of Smith's significant talent.
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