From a Basement on the Hill

His music perfectly laced brutal sarcasm with utter seriousness.

His music perfectly laced brutal sarcasm with utter seriousness. When Elliott Smith died of possibly self-inflected wounds in 2003, addiction, depression and love were already the foundation of his canon. On the posthumously released "From a Basement on the Hill," Smith bundles subtlety and ferocity to create one of his heart-aching best. "Give me one good reason not to do it," he sings on the album's magnum opus, "King's Crossing," a desperate demand blurted with rich, beautiful cynicism. This album will leave fans aggravated, not because of its deficiencies, but because it's the artist's last complete work. Consider it a "fond farewell" to one of this generation's most poignant and gifted songwriters.—KH