While going through my old CDs this week I came across a fun album from 1998 by New York-based jazz group Dave’s True Story called Sex Without Bodies. The group, which described itself as a “lounge-noir band,” morphed a bit over time but was always anchored by writer/composer/guitarist David Cantor and singer Kelly Flint. They played jazz with a cool Greenwich Village underground jazz-club vibe: spare, dry and witty. Flint’s jaded vocals and Cantor’s sardonic lyrics bring a smoky edge to their songs.
Sex Without Bodies starts with the cynical anti-love song “Spasm,” which was featured in an episode of Breaking Bad:
Look at my lips
They’re just dying to taste you
Look at my teeth
They’re just aching to bite
But as for my heart
It’s a big empty chasm
‘Cause this ain’t the real thing
It’s just a spasm
The characters Kelly Flint inhabits are droll and blasé, but they’re relaxed enough that the group’s music isn’t so much dark as overcast. An hour spent with Dave’s True Story is like an hour in an underground bar quaffing excellent cocktails with a good-smelling man who sports precise facial hair and offers to show you his etchings.
Four songs into the album is my favorite of their tunes, “I’ll Never Read Trollope Again,” the story of an avid reader of fiction whose favorite author is Victorian writer Anthony Trollope:
I was sitting in a quaint cafe
With a favorite tome and some cafe au lait
But my luck ran out when you came my way
Now I’ll never read Trollope again
You spied the cover as you slithered near
And said “The 1800s—that’s my favorite year.”
And then you sat right down and now I fear
That I’ll never read Trollope again
Near the end of their album is a cover version of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” a song which perfectly matches their louche, ironic yet somehow upbeat manner. Despite its cynical heart, the album is not a downer. Turn down the lights, pour yourself an artisanal something-or-other and see what you think of it.