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XO
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Product Description

Japanese version featuring a bonus track: "Miss Misery".

Elliott Smith's fourth solo album and major-label debut, XO, brings narrative detail and a wide range of emotion to an indie meld of '60s-style rock and folk-pop. Whether in the broken stateliness of "Waltz #2 (XO)," the Sgt. Pepper tribute of "Baby Britain," or the explosions of "Amity" and "Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands," Smith's melodic and arrangement senses give his vulnerable vocals and brilliant wordcraft the maximum effectiveness. XO is a watershed in singer/songwriter rock. --Rickey Wright

On XO, Elliott Smith leaves the indie doldrums behind and takes wing to new, lush surroundings. By adding full instrumentation to his acoustic reveries, Smith has ascended to a new level of songwriting that shores up his gentle voice and country-tinged guitar playing with extra layers of vocal arrangements and charming piano vamps. Strains of classic rock filter into the Beatlesque "Baby Britain" and the Beach Boys-inspired "I Didn't Understand," but Smith succeeds in adapting them to his style rather than the other way around. A foot soldier in DreamWorks' war on standard-issue rock & roll, Smith joins new label mates Rufus Wainwright and Morphine as sophisticated interpreters of the new male psyche. XO is a stunning shadow print of a soul adrift in the music industry, a dark place indeed. --Lois Maffeo

Customer Reviews:

  • Arguably the best Elliott Smith Album
    This has always been my favorite album by Elliott Smith. The more I listen to Either/Or the more I find it hard to decide between the two, but I still think that in the "desert island" situation I'd go with XO. I thought about reviewing each song but I just don't think it's necessary, everyone should own this album. I have bought it as gifts for several of my family members that don't know who Elliott Smith was. Give the gift of music, give XO! Somehow he makes the f word sound pretty. That's gotta count for something....more info
  • Elliott Smith XO
    This is a great CD, a must own. We should all mourne the loss of Mr. Smith....more info
  • Its been almost one year since Elliot's passing

    and it still hurts.

    "they say that God makes problems
    just to see what you can stand
    before you do as the devil pleases
    and give up the thing you love."

    its impossible to believe he is gone. its unfair and hard to swallow. i dont think i can ever accept it.

    this album is just one of his many gems. he never sold out his fans, he never sold out his music, even when the major labels courted him. dont go to far, stay who you are.

    the raw emotion clothed in almost whispered lyrics combined with the catchy melodies might sneak past the pop-bubble-gum crowd. Elliot had something to say, and now he's gone and we wont ever have his genius again.

    you only live a day, but its brilliant anyway.
    ...more info
  • Absolutely amazing songwriting
    I can't describe how deeply affecting this album has become in my life. It comes so close to perfection and compared to his other great releases, the overall production makes this album magnificent and complete. One day someone will make an album equal in quality to this one, but that will be a long time coming. I'll be anticipating that day....more info
  • Revenge to the tune "You're No Good"
    The tragedy of Elliott Smith is quite sad in and of itself. But listening to this cd, it was quite obvious that the world lost an immense talent. All of his releases have at least some merit, but XO is the place to start for newcomers.
    First off, if you like your music only on the loud side, then your reading about the wrong artist. In listening to this music, I am often reminded of Simon and Garfunkel. Only 10 times stranger. This cd, like most of his other recordings, leans heavily on the folk side.
    My personal favorites are Waltz #2(XO), Baby Britan with it's strong Beatles vibe and Pitseleh which is a good example of Smith's narrative vocal delivery. There is really no weak songs on the cd and it is seamless in it's transition from song to song. I took the original cd and added the "isolated" classic Miss Missery from the soundtrack "Good Will Hunting" to make an even more perfect listen.
    Start here and if you like, then move on to his other strong recordings. Also, you might check out Nick Drake who shared more than just a tragic life.
    ...more info
  • Great stuff
    This is a hands down great album. XO is probably Elliot Smith's best album to date for good reason. Smith tends to sway between total pop production and indie folk recordings. Figure 8 was also a good album but it seemed to be overdone. XO keeps the ingredients just right for the best album Elliot Smith could put out. Great artist that should be recognized more for his awesome musical talent....more info
  • Whoa
    There are some albums that are good for using as background music, where the songs are pleasant, but fail to catch the ear of the listener. This however, is not one of those. Elliott Smith's songs grab your attention from the first few chords, and refuse to let go of you until the song is over. Many of these songs, like "Oh Well, Okay", and "Pitseleh" show evidence of Smith's depression, while others, like "Tomorrow Tomorrow" disguise his bleak lyrical phrases with soaring harmonies and bouncing guitar lines. This is perhaps Smith's saddest album, and possibly his best....more info
  • The Rebirth of Elliott Smith
    Emerging from the shadow of Kurt Cobain in the late 90's, Elliott Smith was perhaps the greatest singer songwriter of his generation. Smith's genius was his unabashedly honest, naked, poetic lyricism that was so beautifully complemented by his unpretentiousness acoustic guitar. Like none that came before him, Smith delivers note after note of haunted, sparkling melancholy. Far from gloomy, his songs radiate with incredible emotional intensity. Combining an unbridled punk rage within the guise of an acoustic folk song, his songs speak for themselves. Reflective and introspective, each song unfolds like a delicately wrapped package, revealing itself slowly. Smith's songs present themselves like late night thoughts that just won't go away. Concerning themselves with drug abuse, depression, and troubled relationships, Smith exorcises his inner demons and releases them in a beautiful, blinding, luminosity, albeit born from dark, painful emotional despair.

    Almost immediately following the release of Good Will Hunting, Smith's popularity exploded overnight. With that popularity followed an offer from a bigger studio with more opportunity. What inevitably followed was a stylistic change in the sound that Smith had become known for. Who knows what XO would have sounded like had he not been nominated for an Academy Award. But XO afforded Smith the chance to embellish his sound with lush production and a rich, full bodied and arguably better sound. A few songs (Tommorrow, Tommorrow, Pitseleh) retain the simplicity of his earlier work). XO is undeniably Smith, the songwriting, the trademark guitar, the voice. Smith's album benefited from increased publicity, and XO would go on to become his best selling album. It is also arguably his most easily accessible album, which has drawn comparisons to The Beach Boys masterpiece Pet Sounds. You will catch yourself singing along to the melody before you realize what he is singing about. Lyrically, XO is just as dark as any of his previous efforts, this time there are just more lights. Perhaps best described as punk rage and despair with a sensitivity. XO is catchy and full bodied, reminiscent of The Beatles and 60's pop. The work on XO is just as complex lyrically as anything he has ever done, yet gorgeous ballads that are layered with pianos, guitars and drums. The result is a fully realized body of work of incredible impact. Smith takes full advantage to show off his proficiency on the piano on several tracks. From the driving guitars of "Amity", to "A Question Mark" XO is no doubt a rock album. Waltz #1 is a gorgeous, soaring, ballad that stands out among as one of the best. No longer a quiet hushed whisper, Smith's incredible singing voice is given the chance to soar, and soar it truly does. His voice truly resonates on songs like Waltz #1 and I Didn't Understand. It is just as easy to imagine the songs without the production, just as acoustic songs. Elliott Smith was a huge Beatles fan and it shows here. The melodies are stronger and catchier than ever. Each new layer fleshes his sound out almost adding another emotional layer. The result is a poppier, catchier sound. Each song flows into the next, and there isn't a dull song on the album. Soaring melodies and gorgeous harmony, supplemented by lush instrumentation allow Smith's songs to truly soar. XO explodes in a kaleidoscopic display of fireworks reaching for the heavens. XO may lose many of the purists who prefer the simple acoustic, although it is undeniable his music is still emotionally resonating. ...more info
  • It hurts, it hurts.
    A far more polished album than the previous "Either/Or" - this album is absolutely stunning. Beautiful, catchy, painful and good. It was my second Elliott Smith purchase, following "Either/Or" and it follows the previous as a must have....more info
  • An Incredible CD
    Being a musician, this CD is so good that it's hard to control my envy upon listening to it - sometimes i have to stop. All of the songs are extremely well crafted and the studio production is outstanding; songs like "Waltz #1","Pitseleh", "Sweet Adeline"... They begin with simple tunes that seem to be enraptured and dramatically altered by Elliott's voice; "Pitseleh" is nothing but Smith and his guitar yet his quiet vocals seem well fitting with a loud piano in the climax of a seemingly quiet song...the music on XO is some of the best ive ever heard, Elliott Smith has incredible studio musicians. I want everyone i know to hear this CD - anyone in dire need of a break from radio music, or most of the recycled music trash on TV will find great solace in "XO" by Elliott Smith....more info
  • You will be missed.
    10/22/03 - If you don't own this, or any, Elliot Smith CD, you should....more info
  • love it
    i love this cd. the shipper shipped quickly and it arrived in perfect condition....more info
  • Simply Perfect. Perfect Perfect Perfect!
    Did this guy know how to write catchy hooks or what? Did this guy have a PROFOUND sense of melody and harmony or what?

    I suppose I'd heard Elliott Smith at one time or another, possibly took note when watching The Royal Tennenbaums. But I really didn't know who this guy was until recently. I started hearing his name again and again though I can't recall where.

    Now, I've been buying and playing music for about 36 years - my first Lp purchase was The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. My tastes range from the Fab Four to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, King Crimson, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Tom Waits and so on. I like just about anything as long as it comes from the heart.

    But I digress. I finally got around to purchasing an Elliott Smith CD - XO. Oh I agonized over whether to buy it, I'd never heard the guy, should I spend the 15 bucks on a guy I've never even heard or play it safe and buy that U2 collection?

    Wow!!! I am so glad I purchased this CD! There is not one stinker track, it's all very skilled, wonderfully executed song writing. This is one of the best sessions I have ever heard, it is worth every penny! Don't agonize over it - Buy it! In a way, I'm glad I didn't discover Elliott Smith before he died, I would have been heartbroken. Waltz #1 is one of the most poinantly beautiful things these ears have ever heard and then it's followed by the rocker Amity - somehow it works. Elliot really was amazing!

    Everytime I listen to XO I think I have picked a favorite track, then on the next listen it's a new favorite track and then on the next listen... and so it goes.

    Don't just just sit there! Start clicking, buy it!

    POSTSCRIPT SIX MONTHS LATER:

    Along with Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and the Shins' Chutes Too Narrow this is the most played CD in my collection. I still believe it is as close to perfection as a rock CD can ever be. It NEVER grows stale, one of a handful of truly great recordings from the pop genre.

    ONE YEAR ON:

    It's still a great CD, not getting a lot of rotation these days but I still love it. It is the only Elliott Smith CD I kept. The others were just too darn depressing....more info
  • A beautiful transition
    Perhaps the best thing about "XO" is that we get to see Elliott Smith very clearly demonstrating the true range and depth of his talent. As amazing as "Roman Candle," "Elliott Smith," and "Either/or" are--and indeed, they are my favorite Elliott Smith albums--those albums require the listener to truly immerse himself in the music; special attention needs to be paid to all the quiet subtleties, or else much of the beauty and uniqueness can be lost. Smith's earlier albums require a desire on the listener's part to let the music bloom in all its glory; "XO" blossoms on first listen.

    "XO" clearly stands out from Smith's previous work, simply based on how much production went into the album; no one could ever accuse "Roman Candle," "Elliott Smith," or "Either/or" of being over-produced. But I also think it would be a mistake to call "XO" overproduced. The rawness and urgency of Smith's music are not glossed over, which is generally what is meant when an album is accused of being overproduced. Instead, Smith's increased resources allow him to bring layers to his music that highlight--rather than detract from--the heart of his songs.

    Songs such as "Waltz #1" and "Oh Well, Okay" demonstrate this point perfectly. These songs have all the lyrical and musical integrity and richness of Smith's earlier work, yet he simply could not have produced them earlier, particularly in the case of "Waltz #1." In spirit, however, these two songs--as well as the majority of the album--are a perfect continuation of Smith's work. That they are "fuller" songs, at least musically, allows Smith's talent to be more open and upfront, yet they still retain a certain quietness and subtlety.

    Several songs stand out as noticeably different from Smith's earlier work, however. "Amity" sounds more like a song Smith would have written for Heatmiser than for a solo album; it is the one sour note on the album. I also find "Baby Britain" to be a new "type" of Smith song, though in this case the development is good. And the last song on the album, "I Didn't Understand," is a beautiful breathy a capella piece which very skillfully sums up the album's themes and brings it to a close.

    "XO" had the chance of falling flat, precisely because of Smith's expanded resources; there was a chance that he would not be able to transition from his minimalistic sound to a fuller one. However, as "XO's" rich lushness demonstrates, Smith fulfilled the challenge well, and he produced a record that is true to the soul of his music....more info
  • Good background music
    Not bad, but you need to be in a very mellow (or depressed) mood to sync with the vibe on this album. If you've just been dumped by your fiancee and are sitting around wondering why you are so alone in the world, this album will sound like it was written with you in mind.

    If you are trying to decide if you might like this music, read the other reviews on this album. If these people sound like folks you would want to hang out with, you are probably ripe for this music. ...more info
  • ornate, blissful pop from a great tunesmith
    Elliott Smith may not have been a stylistic trailblazer, but I can't think of a contemporary who wrote prettier, more tuneful Beatlesesque songs. As a friend put it, "they make your ears melt." XO captures Elliott Smith at his most ear-melting, melodically supple. " "Bled White"- the album's standout- positions a lovely two-part harmony behind a soaring lead vocal while drums and bass provide a perfect counterbalance. It's enough to make anyone's reuptake-inhibitor fizzle into overdrive. The groggy, intense, almost chemical elation Smith's music induces is fitting since so many of his songs, including "Bled White," are about drug addiction. "Cuz I'll have to be high/To drink the sunset down." The buoyant melodies and enticing images seduce you into Smith's comfort zone of depression even as their literal meanings horrify. Hard-edged anger would at least indicate hope, a drive to fight off one's chemically dependent malaise. In that sense, "Amity," the album's sole hard-rock tune is the album's most emotionally healthy. "Baby Britain" is a gratifying ode to Brian Wilson- and the travails of alcoholism. The emphatic piano chords and jangly guitars are positively rousing just as the subject matter is positively sad. "Waltz #1" is the rare example where you can hear Smith's influence upon others rather than vice versa. Between the dreamy vocal effects and dirge-like piano waltz, the crux of Michael Andrews' Donnie Darko score, intentionally or not, echoes "Waltz #1." ...more info
  • a brilliant, flowing album
    Not only beautiful musically, Smith's soft-spoken eloquence masks his earnestness and seriousness in relating painful situations of addiction and yearning...it's one of those albums that gets better with each listen-haven't heard any of his others but have high expectations!...more info
  • If you want to get hooked into a GREAT MUSICIAN
    I bought this album about two years ago in the summer of 2003. One of my friends had me listen to a song of Elliott Smith titled "Waltz #2". That is where i got hooked into Elliott Smith. I quickly went down to my local record store and they had a couple different Elliott Smith cds, 2 to be precise. They had "XO" and Elliott's self titled album. I went onto purchase "XO" and can say that if it were not for that album, I may have never gotten attached to anything from Elliott Smith.

    His melodies are unbelievable. They are so Beatle-esque that you'll just easily get hooked into it. He also is an amazing songwriter. On this cd he can go from writing a fun sounding song like "Baby Britain" to a beautiful heartfelt song like "Tomorrow, Tomorrow". ANY ELLIOTT SMITH FAN SHOULD HAVE THIS ALBUM, SO BUY IT IF YOU DON'T!!! I don't work for cdnow, but i think anybody should make the small investment on this great album. You simply will not regret it.
    ...more info
  • I love it!
    Wary at first of his thin, vulnerable-sounding voice, I have grown to love Elliot Smith's songwriting and vocals. This is the first cd of his that I have owned, and if it is any indication of his other work, I will buy that, too. My favorite songs are "Waltz #2", "Sweet Adeline", and "Waltz #1", all of which have tremendous instrumentals and poignant lyrics. This is a great cd to listen to when you're depressed and just need somewhere to run and hide....more info
  • Quietly spectacular
    There are two types of music. 'Bubblegum' which catches you with its pop hooks, but loses its appear very quickly, and music which could be compared to a fine wine. You tend to develop a taste for it, and it tastes better as it gets older.

    Elliott Smith's seminal album XO, right in the midst of his often turbulent career, combines the best attributes from both. The catchy and original pop hooks in 'Baby Britain', 'Bled White' and 'Waltz #1' catch your ear immediately. While the sullen tone of some of the track's more subtle tracks, such as 'Pitseleh' and even 'Amity' showcase the depth of talent in this record. This is certainly a downbeat, contemplative sort of record which lends itself best to continuous, multiple listens. Not one of those 'one song, one listen' type albums.

    Although excellent in almost every facet, it does have its minor faults. Arrangement tends to be fairly similar throughout the album, and those not possessing an ear for this type of music may overlook it. It goes to show that perhaps not everyone will enjoy this type of music, but once they listen to it more they will usually learn to appreciate its nuances. If you haven't heard it already, the lush instrumentals, vocals, melodies.etc will surely win you over....more info
  • The best pop album of the year(?)
    Maybe, maybe not. But who cares, the music is such a joy in itself. Elliott Smith takes a (on a lesser level) Dylan-esq jump from traditional man w/ guitar solos to advanced, slightly layered pop classics. While Dylan took his que and rocked out, Smith uses the production to build on his established writing, not destroy its beauty. How do those die hards call this the end to his career? If anything, XO surpasses Either/Or with its more complicated themes and, for an added bonus, some production. But don't take my word for it, Smith's songs speak for themselves. Be informed, however, if you only know Smith's earlier work. Songs on XO like "Baby Britain" and "Independence Day" utilize the benefits of major label production and, yes, add some instruments and atmosphere to his work. Don't be a close minded fool just because you (wrongly) think Smioth is a sell out; listen to the work of a sad, lamenting man in the prime of his career who presents his best work yet....more info
  • public service announcement
    elliott smith 1969-2003

    10-22-2003 - goodbye elliott. from one of the thousands whose mental landscape was changed by your music...thank you....more info

  • XO you must get it!!!!!!!!!!
    It is my 2nd cd from elliot smith and thus is great like figure 8. songs XO and Bottle up and explode! is my favorit on this album. I hope I help you!!!!
    ...more info
  • Brilliantly Beatlesesque
    This album, the best that Elliott Smith has done so far, should be widely recognized as an absolutely brilliant pop album. Mr. Smith has a rare gift for writing divine, beautiful melodies in the Beatles tradition. If you like that kind of music (and who on earth doesn't?) you really owe yourself to listen to this one....more info
  • Dark and stately pop brilliance.
    Too often we save our kindest words for someone until after they're gone. Judging from the reviews of the posthumously-released "From a Basement on a Hill", this seems to be the case with Elliott Smith. Anyone claiming that "Basement" is Smith's finest work either hasn't heard XO, is letting grief cloud his judgement, or simply has no ear for music. In my opinion, about half the songs on "Basement" are little more than loose sketches of ideas for songs. A work-in-progress feeling permeates the album, and one can't help wondering how many of its songs would ever have seen the light of day if Smith were still with us.

    Smith's first three solo outings were remarkably stripped-down, unembellished affairs (his first album was a collection of 4-track songs recorded in his bedroom, with Smith singing and playing guitar). Because of his initial lo-fi, DIY approach, many fans were disappointed when they heard he'd jumped to a major label and that his first release on Dreamworks would feature bigger production values.

    They needn't have been worried. I can think of no CD in recent memory that better embodies Brian Wilson's attempt at crafting "miniature symphonies" than XO. String arrangements and piano abound (there's even the occasional horn), but XO doesn't sound big or bloated in the least. Smith's economy as a composer and arranger leaves each song with a hushed, intimate feel. And while his lyrics are actually quite dark, most of the songs themselves are so wispy and ethereal they feel as though they're about to evaporate.

    That Rolling Stone magazine gave XO a three-star rating is utterly baffling to me. XO is simply pop perfection. There isn't a bad song on the album. There isn't even a so-so song. If you're a fan of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and 60's-tinged folk pop and you don't own a copy of XO, there is a hole in music collection. Buy this album today. You won't regret it.
    ...more info
  • Subtle Improvment on earlier material.
    XO is another amazing release by Elliot Smith, if you already own one of his albums then you should be almost certain of how good this album is but if your new to the music of Elliots Smith then for the most part excpect acoustic guitars and folk playing/vocals. This is an improvment from his amazing earlier material though is not quite as good as figure 8 but i still recommened this as one of the albums from his discography that any music fan should own....more info
  • Outstanding Album
    Elliott Smith rarely recorded anything less than great, but XO is one of his strongest albums. In a discography of great work this album is outstanding and deserves praise. ...more info
  • insert title here
    I must have listened to this album at least once a day every day this week with either/or thrown in a couple of times also. I walked past my floormates room, bled white was playing and I had to ask him who it was. I felt so stupid when he told me, seeing how this was all i was listening to for the past seven days, so as pennance, I'm forcing myslef to write this review.

    I didn't get into Elliot Smith until a couple of months ago. My friend started me listening to a lot of Badly Drawn Boy and after that I was left looking for more emotionally unstable male singer-songwriter types. I always liked Ben Folds but I needed more. Enter Elliot Smith. He practicly made up the genre and still noone has been able to top him. I think that the production on this album was deffinately overdone, but still, the strength of the songs dictate that I give this album all five stars. My favorites are sweet Adeline, Waltz #1, baby Britan, and of course bled white. Its a shame that both he and folds were never able to recapure the same magic in their later releases....more info

  • XO...
    Elliott Smith's 1998 album, XO, is a soft little album, filled with honey-sweet vocal harmonies and simple yet nicely layered instrumentation. The album's beat/meter often echoes the most well-known of the songs here, "Waltz #2". It is a portrait from a position of longing, of unrequited affection, of down-hearted, pensive beauty. Comparisons to Nick Drake would not be too far off the mark, but Smith has his own genre-unto-itself sound, or should I say his voice is all his own, unmistakable, very harmonic and beautiful, even at its most resigned to sadness.

    This is great film-score music, the mind stumbles over many possibilities of great scenes to go with the melodies, the words.. oh, the pain, the agony, of the broken-hearted.. and yet, there's a ray of sun in the distance, and the phone just might still ring.. or so the songs here hope.. "and so you'd soon be leaving me/Alone like I'm supposed to be/Tonight, tomorrow and every day..." But the songs leave open the not-too-far-hidden possibility that they may be proven wrong, that love may really be waiting around the next bend in the road, that love may really win out over loneliness after all.. it is despairing but not entirely hopeless. Overall, a simple, pretty, melodic album which nicely high-lights Smith's timbre and range. If you're into slightly down-hearted melodic singer-songwriter music, you'll probably like this cd....more info

  • If you own one Elliott CD, this should be it
    I enjoy all of Elliott Smith's CDs, but XO is definitely the CD to get if you're just exploring Smith's style or want to get a taste of his music. This CD shows Elliott's great talent for introspective, emotional songs, as well as his ability to rock when necessary. You will highly enjoy this CD....more info
  • XO, A top shelf cd in music history
    This album contains some of the best work from Elliott Smith thus far. The music is a bond of absolute beautiful songwriting and lyrics of a troubled man. The listener will understand and relate to heartbreak, depression, love, abuse and hope all on an acoustic ride of string arrangments, brass and simple drum beats. This album has you to the lowest of lows on songs like Pitseleh to the highest of highs on Bottle Up and Explode. Elliott Smith plays his guitar with the fingers of a butterfly and produces, mixes, arranges this album with certain perfection.
    Listen to this diary of a troubled man and you will not regret it. Contains some profane language. 4 out of 5 stars for sonic clarity....more info
  • Yeah I liked this album
    I had heard a few mp3s from friends and so I got into him. would recommend...more info