The Albums: Elliott Smith (1995), Either/Or (1997), XO (1998)
Elliott Smith never had a bad album. Throughout his career, cut short when he passed away at 36 years old in 2003, Elliott continued to evolve, moving from the stripped down acoustic songs of his self-titled album to the slightly more polished acoustic songs of Either/Or to XO, his 1998 album that proved his songwriting could translate beyond acoustic guitars. This growth would continue into Figure 8, the last album he released while alive. His lyrics were often dark and desperate, but Elliott Smith was an extremely talented songwriter, and his melodies ranged from joyful and uplifting to downright heartbreaking. Whether that was on a raw acoustic track or a masterfully arranged pop song, it was always powerful and effective.