Speculation surrounding the posthumous release of Elliott Smith’s sixth album, From a Basement on the Hill, eagerly romanticized the possible unearthing of the singer-songwriter’s motives for suicide. In reality, however, the circumstances of his tumultuous end seem to encompass every record he’s made, not just this one in particular. Compiled by his family and friends, the majority of From a Basement on the Hill was completed by Smith before his death, and in accordance with his repertoire, it echoes the somberness and persistent fatalism that has come to characterize his music.

Musically, it’s hard to say what Smith envisioned for the album. It has its hits and misses, the bright spots being the wonderfully crafted “King’s Crossing,” which boasts a swelling wall of moods and sounds as Smith vows: “I can’t prepare for death any more than I already have.” The equally compelling “Coast to Coast” distorts and clatters cohesively to Smith’s laments, while the somber delicacies of “Twilight” and “Memory Lane” find Smith’s ominous, acoustic splendor true to form.

From a Basement on the Hill, in all its misfortune and sadness, bares witness to the tortured candor of Smith’s folk-pop minimalism and orchestral experimentation that has distinguished him as an artist. Tragically, Elliott Smith’s life mirrored that of the subjects he so often afflicted in his music.

Grade: B

From a Basement on the Hill is currently available.