Ryan Dombal
February 10, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Wringing out droplets of despair with his pen while simultaneously crafting comely hooks, Elliott Smith was a master songwriter during his too-brief life span. His timeless talent deserves utmost tribute, but its dark allure is nearly impossible to re-create. Mostly hailing from Smith’s native city, the courageous acts on To: Elliott From: Portland (including the Decemberists and the Thermals) are able to muster only fleeting glimpses of their tragic hero’s melancholy wonder.

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