It is always sad when someone dies, and while I had no real connection to Elliot Smith’s music, I can honestly say I felt bad when ey died. We can only assume that Chistopher O’Riley felt the same way; I mean, why else devote an entire album of piano-lead instrumental covers of eir music if not for that? At some point, the emotive style of O’Riley’s composition sound like those that were present in all of the Charlie Brown holiday specials; while individuals may see that as a dig on O’Riley’s style, both sets of playing really get the emotional component of vocal music across in their piano playing.
This is not music that is intended as a backup for a singer rising and falling through different moral and ethnical quandaries, but rather as an active style of music that has a vocal component to it. This heavy emotional component means that “Home To Oblivion” is not an album one can fall easily asleep to; the differing chords chosen by O’Riley will ply listener’s hearts in a way that is not quite unlike how O’Riley tickers the ivories in the first place.
There are slower compositions during this disc (Specifically, songs like “I Didn’t Understand”) but one need not conflate the similarities between slower and sleep-inducing. Perhaps the most interesting use of the piano comes in the opening for “Speed Trials”, as the simplistic opening and authoritative sound of that opening really makes the piano into a bass-like instrument for a short period of time. Individuals will be amazed at O’Riley’s skill during “Home To Oblivion” in creating a full sound out of only one instrument; the fullness of a track like “I Better Be Quiet Now” attests to that fact. “Roman Candle” is another one of those tracks that necessarily tricks the listener. In one interpretation, the vast majority of the composition is light and airy. It is only when one gives the track more time that a world of complexity awaits dissection by the listener. This means that “Home To Oblivion” has wide repeat appeal, as individuals desperately try to find all meaning that O’Riley has crammed into the disc. While many (if not all) of Elliot Smith’s fans would attest to their favorite artist as deserving a spot alongside classical masters, it is really O’Riley that begins to shorten the length between this often-misunderstood indie rocker and some of the largest names in the musical corpus.
Top Tracks: Satellite, Speed Trials
Christopher O’Riley – Home To Oblivion: An Elliot Smith Tribute / 2006 World Village / 18 Tracks / http://www.christopheroriley.com / http://www.worldvillagemusic.com / Reviewed 15 March 2006