Elliott (born Steven Paul) Smith was a US American singer-songwriter known for beautiful, Beatles-esque melodies and harmonies paired harsh emotional subject matter.
Raised mostly in Texas, Smith moved to Portland, Oregon at age 14 where he would find an audience for his music, first with the rock band Heatmiser and later as a solo artist. Roman Candle, his first collection of home-recorded acoustic material, was released by Cavity Search Records in 1994. In 1995, Olympia Washington-based label Kill Rock Stars put out his acclaimed self-titled sophomore album, followed by 1997’s Either/Or (named for the Kierkegaard book. Smith then signed a major label deal with DreamWorks, who put out 1998’s XO and 2000’s Figure 8. These albums featured a richer variety of instrumental arrangements and fancier production than his earlier, acoustic-guitar-centric recordings.
In 2003, Smith died in what is generally understood to have been a suicide. This came after years of struggle with depression, drugs, and personal demons, all of which he frequently addressed in his lyrics. From a Basement on the Hill, the album he was working on at the time of his death, was released by ANTI- in 2004.