Being an Elliott Smith fan I was really sad to hear about his passing a few years ago; it was a huge loss to the music world. Smith’s work, although popular among certain circles, remains still unheard by many, even posthumously he has not received the accolades he deserves for his profound contributions he made with his music.
A few years after his death I was introduced through a segment on National Public Radio (NPR) about a number of tribute albums being released in his honor. One in particular that caught my attention was by classical pianist Christopher O’Riley. O’Riley had been a fan of Smith’s compositions and noted how complicated and uniquely structured they were for someone who was not formally trained in writing music; he decided to transcribe them for piano in honor of Smith’s genius.
Home To Oblivion: An Elliott Smith Tribute (2006) is O’Riley’s fantastic representation of a variety of Smith’s work in the classical style. O’Riley hand picked the songs he liked from a broad spectrum of albums spanning Smith’s early work on Roman Candle (1994) to his last album A Basement On The Hill (2004) which was unfinished and released shortly after his death.
The album is sincere and slow, clearly O’Riley’s intentions were to create an album that would both represent the beauty of Smith’s arrangements yet also create a mood for the listener to reflect upon how much more could have been if Smith was alive today. O’Riley has done several tribute albums reflecting the music of Radiohead and the late Nick Drake.
Although a solid album a highlights would be “Let’s Get Lost” and “I Don’t Understand”, simply incredible and worth buying just for those songs alone. You can listen to the album in its entirety prior to buying by going to LaLa Music and typing O’Riley’s name in the search bar.
Christopher O’Riley’s Home To Oblivion: An Elliott Smith Tribute gets 4 out of 5 stars.