Home To Oblivion: A Tribute To Elliott Smith



  • Audio CD (April 11, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: World Village USA

audio clips

track list

1. coast to coast
2. let’s get lost
3. i didn’t understand
4. speed trials
5. i better be quiet now
6. roman candle
7. satellite
8. independence day
9. cupid’s trick
10. o well, okay
11. no life
12. between the bars
13. christian brothers
14. everything means nothing to me
15. waltz #1
16. not half right
17. stupidity tries
18. bye

Christopher O’Riley has gained recent renown for his two albums of piano adaptations of Radiohead songs, Hold Me To This and True Love Waits. He successfully found the inner classical composer in Thom Yorke, and turned the art-rock group’s ambitious songs into symphonic excursions for solo piano. O’Riley brings the same technique to bear on Elliott Smith, a singer-songwriter of considerably more fragile design but who still reveled in idiosyncratic song structures and dense arrangements. Like the Radiohead albums, this isn’t Smith turned into Muzak. O’Riley probes the dark underside of Smith’s lyrics instrumentally, with shrouded chord clusters and tonal washes. He’ll often go toward the angular more than the melodic, fracturing songs sideways. The approach is challenging and sometimes oppressive. It’s a relief when he emerges from a storm of overtones to an almost baroque minuet on “Coast to Coast.” So goes it for most of Home to Oblivion, as O’Riley makes Smith’s music his own. “Independence Day” comes off almost as a jaunty boogie-woogie in O’Riley’s hands, while “Cupid’s Tricks” is a delirious swirl with piano lines tumbling over each other against aggressive left-hand chord stabs. O’Riley finds echoes of Chopin, Mozart, and Satie in Smith’s ruminations. I confess that I’ve not plumbed the depths of the Elliott Smith oeuvre as Christopher O’Riley has so lovingly and obsessively done. But I suspect that fans of the singer-songwriter might find this CD almost worth it just for the pianist’s liner-notes meditation on the life and music of Smith… –John Diliberto

“Also available for digital download at iTunes and Amazon.com.”
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