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Another posthumous release from the sorely-missed Elliott Smith, a man with the sort of back catalogue most singer-songwriters can only dream of. This two-disc compilation is kind of a mixed bag: twenty-four tracks pulled from various sources - demos, rarities, alternate versions - all recorded in the mid-nineties when Smith was putting together seminal albums such as `Either/Or'. Most of these songs were never meant to see the light of day, so it's understandable that `New Moon' lacks the coherence of the previous offering, `From a Basement on a Hill', but it's still worthy of five stars.

Quite a few of these tracks have been knocking around on the internet for a couple of years, but there's almost certainly something here that even the most devoted fans haven't heard (or been able to own) yet. It's all pretty lo-fi really, just Elliott singing and strumming, a raw sound more like his eponymous second album than later, larger-scale works like `XO'. But there really are some gems here. We get an early version of his Oscar-nominated song, Miss Misery, and a lovely cover of Big Star's `Thirteen'. Highlights for me are `Seen How Things Are Hard', `Going Nowhere', `High Times', `Whatever (Folk Song in C)' and a truly beautiful solo rendition of 'Half Right', an old track from his Heatmiser days.

Money doesn't grow on trees, but you might be forgiven - in Smith's case - for thinking that songs do. He was so prolific in his too-short life that we've been spoiled so far with the illusion of `new' songs. But logic dictates that the treasure trove must be nearly empty by now. He was doing some of his best work in the months before he died, and listening to `New Moon' is a bittersweet reminder that we might easily have had another two or three beautiful albums by now if not for his tragic death.
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on 7 May 2007
From beyond the grave, this precocious talent still has the power to astound. Mined from his most prolific period, 24 gems that were thrown away, probably never intended to be released. Such is the genius of the troubled troubadour, that even the songs deemed unworthy of being included on an album, are infinitely better than some artists' entire canon.

His haunting voice holds more resonance now that he is no longer with us, and will always be at odds with the gorgeous melodies. We need him around more than ever, with the James Blunts and Morrisons polluting our airwaves. And that's what makes this album all the more melancholy, albeit triumphant that he's still putting music out there that is far superior to his supposed peers.
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VINE VOICEon 8 February 2008
The trouble with untimely death is the fact that someone at some point will dust off those tapes put to one side and stick them on an unsuspecting public. Most do little to enhance the legacy of the artist and generally contain large ammounts of material which should have been given the luxury of another inch of dust.

"New Moon" is a posthumous release but on many levels completely refutes the idea that you should never deleve into the unreleased materials. Most of the material comes from a very short space in time and shows off Elliott Smith's strengths excellently. The songs here contain material shelved from the early period of his career and the material really compliments the released output rather well. This seems to have been a fertile period for Smith and the fact that there are no less than 24 pieces here - most brand new songs not previously available - makes this set rather special.

Musically this has the pared down feel of his early works and is all the better for it. Whilst the music seems gentle and sometimes bright the lyrics betray the sadness and insecurities that seemed to blight him throughout his life. There's much to enjoy even during the darker moments and with the rather low fi intimacy evident on most of this record you feel at times uncomfortably close to this music.

Overall this is a very worthwhile project and if this was a new Elliott Smith record I am sure it would be receiving just the same kind of praise. This is a worthwhile addition to even a casual fan's collection.
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on 8 May 2007
It's a quite remarkable suprise to find such brilliant "new" music from a man who died in 2003, but such was Smith's songwriting ability that he could release a series of brilliant records and find no room for gems such as these. And that's even before getting to his later unreleased works, some of which have been leaked over the internet, and which will hopefully also receive a proper release at some stage.

The previous reviewer said most of what needs saying with "Such is the genius of the troubled troubadour, that even the songs deemed unworthy of being included on an album, are infinitely better than some artists' entire canon."

Songs like New Monkey and Going Nowhere are some of the best songs Smith wrote in the 1990s. There is hardly a duff track among the 24, and it stands on its own as a great Elliott Smith album. Moving, fragile, and beautiful. A gift from the Gods...
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Although this isn't strictly speaking a new album release by Elliott Smith, which - given his premature death in 2003 - would be difficult, this posthumous release of unreleased material unearthed by his family and compiled from the many tapes Elliott had in storage certainly qualifies. The majority of these songs and/or versions hadn't been heard before this release, so this is as close to a new album by Elliott Smith that we're likely to ever get.

Elliott suffered with crippling depression throughout his life and his pain, self-doubt and self-torturing demeanour are all too apparent when you listen to his bruised, sparse music. Emotionally speaking, Elliott's lows were very low and yet the moments of hope, of light which shine through in many of his songs somehow are all the more powerful and inspiring given the backdrop of Elliott's life and the fractured, fragile vocal delivery. The lyrics are often very honest, sometimes brutally so, and yet the beauty of his guitar playing and the incredible melody of his songs provide an often heart-stopping juxtaposition between subject matter and delivery. New Moon is an almost unwaveringly wonderful collection of beautiful, unique Elliott Smith songs. Track after track of songs which, play after play, slowly reveal themselves to each be mini-masterpieces by a vastly underrated artist.

This isn't an easy listen, by any stretch of the imagination. Existing Smith fans will find gold in this collection, but those new to Elliott's music may have to be prepared to review this album a few times before the true beauty of the material reveals itself to them. For example, you can listen to some songs and then, after you've heard it, realise that you've listened to little more than his exceptional guitar work and that, to fully appreciate the song as a whole, you'll pretty much have to listen to it again. There are other songs in which his vocals and lyric just captivate you and everything else becomes secondary. This isn't unusual when listening to Elliott.

Elliott was inspired by many musicians, but none moreso than The Beatles and a lot of his later work, especially on the Figure 8 and From A Basement On A Hill albums were a lot more immediately upbeat and more layered with Beatlesque melodies and harmonies than his more basic beginnings. New Monkey on this collection gives a glimpse of such aspirations and influences, as does his wonderful cover of Big Star's Thirteen, which he completely owns - much better than the original, in my opinion.

Although this album is consistently great - and it really is - other exceptional highlights for me include New Disaster, which is captivatingly beautiful, Fear City, a dark, textured, soft indie-rock wonder and Almost Over, an agitated, brilliant piece of frustration which really highlights Elliott's superb musical ability. This album may have been compiled from outtakes, B-sides, demos and unreleased tracks, but it doesn't - at any point - feel like anything other than a complete, cohesive, 'real' album and is a fantastic addition to the Elliott Smith catalogue.
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on 22 February 2009
Tragedy and shame aside this unreleased material is pretty good but I would reccomend 'XO' to fans and 'Either/or' to newcomers to the amazing sounds of Mr Smith


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