Sex Without Bodies
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
For the die-hard Dave's True Story fan, it's been a long wait since 1993's self-titled debut disc on their own Bepop label. Although 10,000 copies were sold of that disc, indicating its wide appeal, a new album did not arrive. Finally, in 1998, DTS (Kelly Flint on vocals and David Cantor on guitar and vocals) release their second album, Sex Without Bodies. It continues the legacy of smooth jazz-influenced folk music that DTS pioneered on their debut album. The sound is so unmistakably DTS that you can just picture yourself in a dark jazz club in Greenwich Village, sipping martinis on a 1920s-style couch, listening to Flint melt men's hearts, overtop Cantor's funky guitar licks.
Sex Without Bodies features 12 new tracks and one old one: I'll Never Read Trollope Again from Christine Lavin's Laugh Tracks, Volume 1. Appearing on the same album as roll-on-the-floor favorites as Vance Gilbert's Country Western Rap, Patty Larkin's At the Mall, and Rob Carlson's Springsteen parody (These Eggs Were) Born to Run, Trollope was just too subdued and subtle to fit comfortably on Laugh Tracks. On Sex Without Bodies, Trollope fits nicely with the more easy-going theme consistent with the rest of the album.
As the album title suggests, Sex Without Bodies is chock full of songs about sex and its implications for human relationships. Ned's Big Dutch Wife tells the tale of a woman running a brothel without her husband's knowledge. Baby Talk is a recipe for success at bedding the song's narrator. And the title track is a take-off on the false sexual goals of porno movies and 1-900 numbers.
Like Flexible Man on their eponymous first CD, Sex without Bodies also contains a soon-to-be signature song Spasm, featuring the sexual interplay between Flint's alluring vocals and Cantor's guitar accents. Flint sings, "You've got a laugh that could bring me to tears. You've got compassion coming out of your ears. You've got a mind that's agile and bright. But that's not the reason that I'm yours tonight."
As the mood shifts and the post-martini high fades, we arrive at the album's highlight, Once Had a Woman. Here the tale is told of a philandering man and the woman who loved him, seemingly overlooking his habit. In the last line of the song, we learn that the narrator is that woman. Simply a powerful song that brings chills up the spine. To see that song in concert would probably send most everyone reaching into their purses and pockets for Kleenex or handkerchiefs.
Flint describes that when she's singing Daddy-O, she takes on the character of "a housewife in the '60s who's playing hostess to a group who are freaked out over Vietnam. She's wearing a pantsuit, has a Mai-Tai in her hand, and is kind of a ditz, telling everybody to chill out." Nirvana is a musical companion to Last Go Round, from their first album, in which the narrator must learn to become comfortable with being swept off her feet by possible love, after doing without for so long: "I can't deny this stranger in my skin, or is it just Nirvana setting in?"
The only low point of the album is a cover of Walk on the Wild Side. Maybe I'm missing something here, but DTS's "beat-lounge" version of Lou Reed's exploration of cross-dressing, addiction, and perversion in New York City does not seem quite appropriate in the context of the rest of the album.
That mystery aside, Flint's sexy vocals are prominent in the mix and are not drowned out by the tasteful instrumentation, filled out by drums, upright bass, percussion, vibes, trumpet, and saxophone. Despite being recorded live in a Chelsea, New York Episcopal Church with no overdubs, the sound quality of the CD is excellent, as one would hope for a CD of this genre.
I highly recommend Sex Without Bodies for those who want to music to seduce to. DTS has no equals in the folk-music world. They are truly unique. Welcome back, DTS! I'm looking forward to your next release; please don't make us wait another five years.
Edited by David N. Pyles (firstname.lastname@example.org)