Singer/songwriter Elliott Smith’s final album, “From a Basement on the Hill,” is released this week via Epitaph’s Anti- imprint. Smith died from knife wounds last October; the material he had been working on was posthumously overseen by members of his family, as well as longtime collaborator Rob Schnapf and musician Joanna Bolme.
The 15-track album features drumming by the Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd on opener “Coast to Coast,” while Quasi’s Sam Coomes plays bass and sings on “Pretty (Ugly Before),” which was issued in August 2003 as a single by Suicide Squeeze Records.
Other song titles suggest Smith may have been contemplating suicide and revisiting his frequent themes of addiction, including “Strung Out Again,” “Shooting Star,” “Memory Lane” and “Last Hour.”
It is believed Smith had tracked more than 30 songs during work on the project, for which he’d reached an agreement with DreamWorks to release on an independent label of his choosing. But it’s unclear how many songs were complete, or if they will ever see the light of day. “He was always editing and working,” DreamWorks A&R executive Luke Wood said last year. “He always had a large cycle of songs that he was making better, and sometimes that cycle took years.”