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Xo (elliott smith album)

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XO is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. It was recorded from 1997 to 1998 and released on August 25, 1998 by record label DreamWorks; Smith's first solo album on a major record label. Two singles, "Waltz #2 (XO)" and "Baby Britain", were released.

Early sessions for the album began at Larry Crane's Jackpot Recording Studio after the release of Either/Or in 1997. These sessions would yield early demos of several album tracks, as well as outtakes later released posthumously on New Moon. Work began in earnest on the album in early 1998, after Smith traveled to Los Angeles to work with producers Rob Schnapf and Tom Rothrock. An early working title for the album was Grand Mal.[7]

The title of the first track, "Sweet Adeline", was inspired by Smith's recollections of his grandmother singing in her glee club, Sweet Adelines International.[8] "Amity" is believed to be named after a friend who can be seen in photographs from Smith's 1997 tour.[9] "Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands" is based on a true story of an intervention that saw Smith check into a rehab facility in Arizona. Smith's original lyrics bear this out further, with references to 'the desert', a 'dream-killing doctor', and a 'twelve-stepping cop'.

XO was released by DreamWorks Records on August 25, 1998. It was Smith's first solo record on a major record label, though he had previously released music on a major label with his band Heatmiser's final album, Mic City Sons (1996).

Singles released from the album were "Waltz #2 (XO)" in the same year[10] and "Baby Britain" the following year.[11]

XO was well received by critics upon its release. Mark Richardson of Pitchfork wrote, "Smith's songwriting continues to improve, as each of [the album's] fourteen tracks displays his inarguable mastery of the pop song structure more clearly than ever."[18] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album a one-star honorable mention rating, indicating "a worthy effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well like". His review described the album's music as "high tune, low affect," citing "Waltz #2 (XO)" and "Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands" as highlights.[22] XO placed at number five on The Village Voice's 1998 end-of-year Pazz & Jop poll.[23]

In its retrospective review, BBC Music wrote, "the budget might have gone up, but Smith's masterful way with an understated melody and melancholic lyric remained firmly intact", calling XO "perhaps the greatest long-player Smith released; if not, it's certainly the equal of the preceding Either/Or. Repeat listens don't dull it in the slightest, every barbed one-liner and exhalation of despair perfectly preserved".[24] Trouser Press called the record "a tastefully commercialized production (completely with horns and strings) that respects Smith's privacy and, in fact, does him a solid service. [...] If the songs are not the most profound or developed of Smith's catalogue, it's still a great record that proves how durable integrity can be."[25]

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