Various Artists

Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith

American Laundromat

Dec 21, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

I terms of independent music, the cast for Say Yes! is pretty much as close as it gets to all-star: J. Mascis, Waxahatchee, Amanda Palmer, Yuck, and Julien Baker are among those enlisted to tribute one of the most talented songwriters to ever occupy these circles. Sadly, large parts of Say Yes! feel uninspired and lazy.

William Fitzsimmon's breathy take on the title track does little other than strip the track of its delirium, sounding straight out of a teenage blockbusterwhich feels very anti-Smith. Elsewhere, Escondido fail to punctuate "Waltz #1" with the wholeheartedness that it deserves. Say Yes! could quite feasibly be dismissed as a wasted opportunity, with only a few tracks tributing Smith fittingly.

When it gets it right, though, Say Yes!  is totally breathtaking. Yuck's hyper-charged take on "Bled White" explores the track's infinite melodic magnetism to full-effect, and Julien Baker and Waxahatchee taking on "Ballad of Big Nothing" and "Angeles" respectively was always going to be incredible, Baker's delivery in particular is a highlight of the record.

If this had been an EP of a handful of tracks, it could have been stunning, but it's a record that frustrates and bores much more than it touches. (  

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