Today, an outstanding rendition of Elliott Smith’s beloved “Southern Belle” by Ellen Kempner of Palehound has been released. Renowned for developing compositions of emotive tension, the track oscillates between Kempner’s lush, whispered vocals and scorching guitar work. A standout track on the self-titled album, the song arrives with an exclusive new photo from the Elliott Smith: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition due out August 28 on Kill Rock Stars.
Smith’s joy and connection to the creative community in Portland, his home at the time, is beautifully documented by the photos and reminiscences in this new package. It includes a remastered Elliott Smith (1995) reissue and previously unreleased Live at Umbra Penumbra bonus disc of the earliest known recording of Smith performing as a solo act. These two records come encased within a 52-page coffee table book with handwritten lyrics & reminiscences as well as and two dozen previously unseen photographs from the era by JJ Gonson.
For this release, producer/engineer Larry Crane, the official archivist for the Smith family, dug through files, reels, cassettes, and DAT tapes to find the closest sources to the original Elliott Smith first-generation mix downs and spent days to carefully transfer and clean up the audio from the Umbra Penumbra high-quality cassette provided by Casey Crynes. “There are fan-traded MP3s out there of this show, but when people hear what I was able to extract from this original tape, they’ll be shocked,” says Crane.
“As the person who originally signed him to the label, starting with the Needle In The Hay single and this self-titled album, I am especially passionate about putting forward reminders of this phase of his career – his magic as a solo performer and as a writer of songs for simply guitar and voice with little or no accompaniment. I also really want him to be remembered for his humor, warmth, and absurdist sense of irony,” says Kill Rock Stars founder Slim Moon.