Elvira: Songs from the Archives 1979-83

Kevin Coyne

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Elvira: Songs from the Archives 1979-83 Review

by Richie Unterberger

A combination of two separate sessions, one from 1979, one from 1983. The 1979 tracks were originally conceived as a one-woman show about Elvira Barney, an English debutante who shot her boyfriend, although it never went into production. Almost all of the tracks feature no instrumentation save Coyne's acoustic guitar. It's suitably harrowing stuff, typical of Coyne's fine walk between sanity and instability, though here he is taking on the persona of another character (the fact that it's a female character adds another level of strangeness). The 1983 sessions, by contrast, have abrasive, sometimes chaotic backing that sometimes skirts free jazz, though Coyne's lyrics remain chillingly sardonic and neurotic. It's worth searching for if you liked Coyne's early, sparse recordings.