For his forthcoming follow-up to 2000’s Figure 8, noted singer-songwriter and former Oscar nominee Elliott Smith will return to the underground well from which he sprang. In an unorthodox move, Smith’s label, Dreamworks, has agreed to allow him to release the tentatively titled titled From the Basement on the Hill via the independent imprint of his choice. Smith hasn’t yet chosen a label, but he hopes the album will be on shelves this spring.
Smith’s management says the decision to seek an alternate home for his sixth album reflects his present disillusionment with the state of majors in general, not just Dreamworks, which he’s called home since 1998. (Smith himself refused comment for this piece.) Before Dreamworks, Smith recorded for indies Kill Rock Stars and Cavity Search. While certain high-profile acts, most notably Beck, occasionally ink contracts allowing for indie one-offs, Smith’s agreement with Dreamworks was exclusive. At the conclusion of the cycle for his next album, Smith is expected to return to the major.
Smith is recording From the Basement on the Hill in Los Angeles on his own dime. He’s already asked the Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd and Beachwood Sparks’ Aaron Sperske to guest on a few songs. Producer/engineer David McConnell (the Call, Andy Prieboy) is contributing to the sessions, which would explain Smith’s guest spot on Blue Swan Orchestra, the forthcoming debut disc from McConnell’s own Goldenboy (on which frequent Smith sideman Shon Sullivan also sings and plays guitar).
Among the songs expected to make Smith’s new album are “Shooting Star” and “Little One,” which the singer road-tested during his recent West Coast shows. In February, Smith will perform at London’s Royal Festival Hall as part of MOJO magazine’s 100th issue celebration.