Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers and singer/songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield have paired up to record and release an album of covers from the late Elliott Smith. Elliott Smith was a singer/songwriter who tragically took his own life in 2003. Smith’s songs were known for the dark nature that surrounded them. On this covers album, Avett and Mayfield have found a way to put a new, brighter twist on songs. The album was recorded over a time span of three years and recorded in various locations including the Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, North Carolina, and both Avett and Mayfield’s home.
It’s easy to hear that above anything else, Avett and Mayfield are simply fans that have a love for Smith’s music. Some songs were kept very close to their originals, but some were given a new light. The swirling blend of Avett and Mayfield’s voices together make for a beautiful sound, creating a conversation-like dialogue on these tracks, and it gives a different insight to the lyrics.
One thing that does not seem to translate over is the raw emotion that Smith had in his music. It could be a good thing to put a new twist and energy in the music, but some songs were meant to sound the way they did. It is hard to translate Smith’s darkness with such a light and airy voice that Mayfield has. With Smith being the somber person that he was, his upfront, direct lyrics were performed in dark tones for a reason. Instead, what you hear is two fans covering the songs from a man whose music they deeply love.
Still, whether you have listened to Elliott Smith before or not, this album is too good to just pass over. If you are a Smith fan, each song is recognizable and presented tastefully. Avett and Mayfield each paid homage to Smith’s work in the best way possible and achieved their goal of recording and releasing a heartfelt album from start to end.