Roman Candle (album)

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Roman Candle
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 14, 1994
RecordedLate 1993
LabelCavity Search
ProducerElliott Smith
Elliott Smith chronology
Roman Candle
Elliott Smith

Roman Candle is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. It was recorded in late 1993 and released on July 14, 1994 by record label Cavity Search.

Pitchfork has described the album's style as "lo-fi folk".[1]

Background and recording[edit]

Roman Candle was recorded and released while Smith was still in Heatmiser. According to Benjamin Nugent's biography Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing, Smith recorded the album in the basement of the home of then-girlfriend and Heatmiser manager J.J. Gonson.

The album was never intended for release, as Smith only expected to get a deal for a 7" single; however, after Gonson played the album for Cavity Search, they immediately requested permission to release it in its entirety. Smith at first hesitated, and then allowed permission.[2]


The album has a raw, homemade sound, with Smith playing each instrument and recording it on his four-track recorder.[3] Additionally, he used an inexpensive RadioShack dynamic microphone to capture the sound.

The front cover features a photograph of Neil Gust (of Heatmiser) and friend Amy Dalsimer, taken by Gonson. Smith chose the image because he "liked the way the picture looked as a 'piece of art'".[2]


Roman Candle was released on July 14, 1994.

Roman Candle was reissued on April 6, 2010 by record label Kill Rock Stars. It was remastered by Larry Crane, with the original mixes by Smith remaining intact. On the official press release on, Crane said of the remaster:

The intention that I had was to make the album more listenable. I felt that a lot of the guitar "squeaks" were jarring and very loud, and that many of the hard consonants and "s" sounds were jarring and scratchy sounding. I felt by reducing these noises that the music would become more inviting and the sound would serve the songs better. When I went to Roger Seibel's SAE Mastering, he proceeded to equalize the tracks a small amount and to make the volume slightly louder. We never tried to make this CD as loud as current, over-limited trends, but just to match the volume of the rest of Elliott's KRS catalog in a graceful way. Please note that none of this album is "remixed" from the master tapes – it is still composed of the mixes Elliott created himself.[4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[3]
Consequence of Sound4/5 stars[6]
Drowned in Sound8/10[7]
Record Collector3/5 stars[12]
Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[13]

According to Nugent, the response to Roman Candle was mixed, with some passing it off as being derivative of Simon & Garfunkel,[2] though Roman Candle has since been well received by critics.

In its retrospective review, BBC Music opined that the album "remains a searingly honest and decisive collection. As a genesis of exceptional talent it is flawless, and heartbreakingly so."[5] Consequence of Sound called the album "far from a genius effort, but nonetheless an important solo performance pointing towards where his many strengths and few weaknesses as a singer and songwriter were."[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Elliott Smith, except "No Name #1", written by Smith and J.J. Gonson.

1."Roman Candle"3:37
2."Condor Ave"3:34
3."No Name #1"3:03
4."No Name #2"3:34
5."No Name #3"3:13
6."Drive All Over Town"2:36
7."No Name #4"2:30
8."Last Call"4:38
9."Kiwi Maddog 20/20"3:40


  • Elliott Smith – acoustic guitars, vocals, production, electric guitar ("Roman Candle", "Last Call", "Kiwi Maddog 20/20"), harmonica ("No Name #2")
Additional personnel
  • Tony Lash – mixing assistance
  • Neil Gust – sleeve design and photography
  • JJ Gonson – album cover photography
  • Peter Hawkinson – technician


  1. ^ LeMay, Matt. "Pitchfork review of New Moon". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  2. ^ a b c Nugent, Benjamin (2004). Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81447-1.
  3. ^ a b Cater, Darryl. "Roman Candle – Elliott Smith : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  4. ^ "Sweet Adeline | Roman Candle". Sweet Adeline. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Skinner, James (March 29, 2010). "BBC – Music – Review of Elliott Smith – Roman Candle". BBC. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Persson, Jesper (April 23, 2010). "Album Review: Elliott Smith – Roman Candle [Reissue] | Consequence of Sound". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  7. ^ Ashurst, Hari (April 1, 2010). "Elliott Smith – Roman Candle (Reissue) / Releases / Releases // Drowned in Sound". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  8. ^ Brown, Jeffrey (March 30, 2010). "Filter Magazine – Reviews – Elliott Smith". Filter. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "NME Album Reviews – Roman Candle / Elliott Smith –". NME. June 30, 1998. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  10. ^ Greene, Jayson. "Elliott Smith: Roman Candle / From a Basement on the Hill | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  11. ^ Ramirez, AJ (April 16, 2010). "Elliott Smith: Roman Candle / From a Basement on the Hill | PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  12. ^ Kennedy, Jake. "Roman Candle –Elliott Smith |". Record Collector. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  13. ^ "Elliott Smith: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2013.

External links[edit]