Drama’s new Dance Without Me is for sad-but-sexy folks everywhere | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Drama’s new Dance Without Me is for sad-but-sexy folks everywhere

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When the COVID-19 crisis subsides long enough for the concert circuit to start up again, you’ll want to see Chicago electro-R&B duo Drama live. But in the meantime, their new debut LP, Dance Without Me, might just be the record you need to get through your social isolation. An album for sad-but-sexy people everywhere, Dance Without Me continues the lush musical explorations of love and loss that the group began on the sultry, synth-driven 2016 EP Gallows, building urgency with the narratives in their lyrics as well as the tempos of their tracks. Gentle opener “7:04 AM” captures that eerily silent longing that comes on strong in the mornings when someone who’s always been there is suddenly gone. The house-influenced instrumentals of producer Na’el Shehade pulsate without overwhelming, while Via Rosa’s soulful, smoky vocals linger over every note, making heartbreak and bliss sound equally seductive. Drama balance pop-conscious melodies and deft, delicate layers of keys and strings against funky, grimy beat manipulation and bossa nova rhythms, bringing a vibrancy that’s distinctly theirs to “singing the blues.” Rosa’s candid declarations can stand alone, but listened to in succession, they build upon one another to tell a larger, more complex story. On “Lifetime” and the title track, she speaks to different elements of longing, and the latter ultimately drives home the message that self-love must come before love of another. The process of healing a broken heart is a journey from pain to joy, and on Dance Without Me Drama make a compelling case to hold space for it on the dance floor.   v

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