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Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith

A heartfelt, intermittently great tribute to the late songwriter

Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 19: Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers and Jessica Lea Mayfield perform a duet at The Fox Theater on July 19, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty

Elliott Smith’s all-too-brief career inspired a generation of artists taken by his piercing lyrics and delicate melodies. On this loving, hit-or-miss tribute, Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield draw largely from Smith’s 1997 breakthrough, Either/Or, and his posthumous work. Mayfield provides the highlights with her grunge rendition of “Roman Candle” and her elegant take on “Twilight.” But the real revelation is how well such deeply personal material lends itself to interpretation. You’re left marveling less at these adequate covers and more at Smith’s foolproof songbook.

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