Elliott Smith

Heaven Adores You [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Although the Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You appeared in theaters a year prior to Cobain: Montage of Heck, it's difficult not to compare its 2016 soundtrack to the 2015 album that accompanied the doc of the departed Nirvana leader. Like Montage of Heck, Heaven Adores You is largely constructed from outtakes, demos, and unfinished songs -- the rough drafts an artist leaves behind when he dies -- but where the Kurt Cobain enterprise seemed ghoulish due to its reliance on audio collages never meant for public release, the untitled scraps, formless instrumentals, and working versions that populate Heaven Adores You are each the genesis of a potential song; they're something ultimately intended for an audience of more than one. If the individual components occasionally drift or sit still, the overall construction of the soundtrack has momentum, warmly wandering from a 14-year-old tentatively plucking away on his acoustic guitar to a singer/songwriter who never quite seems as confident in his art as perhaps he should. In that sense, Heaven Adores You is something of an aural biography, anchored by a few completed, recognizable tunes -- there's a live version of "Miss Misery" from Late Night with Conan O'Brien arriving roughly in the middle of the proceedings -- but valuable for illustrating how thoroughly Smith's personality shone in his music. Even in this collection of rarities, his gently lilting melancholy is unmistakable and alluring.

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