Listening to Doveman makes me want to die because:
- Thomas Bartlett is the cold, soulless voice of emptiness.
- Bartlett sings in a gust-of-the-chest near-whisper that pushes more air than it actually produces sound.
- Moments of improvisation interrupt the otherwise tightly wound restraint of the songs creating a feeling of unjustified chaos.
- He sings, “And you don’t know what she is thinking/ you just know that it’s the end, and you can tell that she’s been drinking/ all alone again.”
Listening to Doveman makes me want to live because:
- I believe everything Bartlett sings.
- Bartlett has a knack for empowering his limited voice to act as its own instrument independent of the music surrounding it.
- Occasional hints at vibrancy threaten to break free from the compositions proving a certain stifled vitality lurks below every note.
- He sings, “And I could take her dancing, but I don’t like to dance/ But if I don’t ask her now, I might not have another chance.”
Either way, this is music to die to. When the fifty-three minutes of Doveman’s debut, The Acrobat, have ended, then, and only then, can you calmly pass from this world knowing there is nothing more to feel, know, sense or experience. Wasn’t this album playing in that scene from Soylent Green when Sol forfeits his life to learn all the world’s secrets? No? Well, it certainly would have fit.
A classically trained pianist and melancholy aficionado, Bartlett, supported by longtime friend Sam Amidon, created a concept for Doveman: two core musicians tightly follow a composition and auxiliary players join in at will, untied to the song’s structure. The approach results in every sound melting together as if it were produced by one mind, unifying The Acrobat with an unfaltering mood that contorts itself through such distinct shapes as the distant-feeling “Boy+Angel,” the minimally orchestral “Clouds” and the conflicted “Dancing.”
Bartlett’s songwriting pines over loves lost and the accompanying malaise with a clouded head of familiar, honest and never-too-profound human response. Wringing out his inner turmoil with a faint whisper, Bartlett presents himself bare — faults and all — to his audience. That said, The Acrobat is only for those willing to enter Doveman’s world of remorse, those looking for something recognizable and potentially uplifting buried within the sorrow. The album is not merely to be enjoyed. Treat it like an experience, discover its (and your) secrets, and consider your mind blown.