Through a faint whisper barely audible enough to understand, Thomas Bartlett, lead singer of Doveman, captures the feelings of heartbreak and loneliness with his desperate odes to isolation.
Consisting of five members, Doveman’s line-up is made up of established musicians who have enjoyed stints in Iggy Pop and the Frames and with artists such as Bonnie Raitt and Yoko Ono. Described as “lamp rock” on their own web page, Doveman’s sound is as unique as their name. With Bartlett’s Nike Drake-like voice and ability to convey his lyrical longings and the band’s ability to create a wistful folk pop that blends and builds with Bartlett’s vocals, Doveman creates music eerily similar to other broken-hearted artists like Elliot Smith (though not quite as dark) and Belle and Sebastian.
On Doveman’s sophomore album With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead, Bartlett shifts his focus from the scores of love songs found on their debut album The Acrobat, to songs about the land, the changing times, and love lost.[audio:http://www.dovemanmusic.com/mp3/honey.mp3]
Though the themes have changed, the way Bartlett sings the songs haven’t. No matter the topic, each song feels as heart wrenching and desperate as the last, especially the dreary “…&sunrise medley” that opens with almost two minutes of pure emotional build-up before one lyric is ever spoken. Other songs like “Dancing” feel warm and fuzzy, but the underlying tones of desperation are ever-present (in the case of “Dancing” the music may be uplifting, but the lyrics convey an uneasiness about letting someone into your life.)
With blunt, honest music, and lyrics that cut like emotional knives, Doveman’s sophomore effort triumphs. Thomas Bartlett, though not as gifted vocally as other singers, makes up for it by using his voice as a second instrument, a soft, muted whisper, more beautifully devastating than any guitar or musician today.
by Ryan Shaver, staff writer