Insomnia pop has never been so perceptive. Doveman is best known for the sleepy, barely there vocals and minimalist instruments of its frontman, Vermont native and melancholy master Thomas Bartlett. Both lend muscle to Bartlett’s delicately executed commentaries on solitude and remorse. What makes With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead different from the 2005 Brassland debut, The Acrobat, is the unquestionable vocal strength (case in point: a reprised version of the transitory "Chasing Clouds," which is phenomenally more formidable and riskier than the former minimalist version). It shows Bartlett’s emerging confidence in allowing his voice to stand apart from the instrumentals that bolster his fading veneer.
The immaculate transitions between several varieties of musical meanderings thoroughly showcase Bartlett (who, by all accounts, does not rehearse before recording) and mainstays Sam Amidon and Dougie Browne, as well as their undeniable adaptability. Bartlett’s feelings of rapture and dejection are ever present in this versatile collection, the album being a completely poignant experience that carries the full spectrum of human emotion. Opener "The Sunken Queen" lures us in with multihued drums and piano amid a backdrop of shuffling instances of adoration and penitence, which is connected to "Tender Mercies" — a beautifully accessible ceasefire of soft piano and strings — by a track that is chockfull of the transcendent, experimental meanderings that define all seven interludes.
The ever-revered Bartlett does an extraordinary job shedding light on the human experience. It makes an argument for the beauty of restrained momentum in all things worthy of contemplation, and for the necessity of quiet observation. If we are too preoccupied to do so ourselves, at least we have Bartlett to show us the beauty lurking beneath life’s most damning heartbreaks.