Doveman and Friends Ring in The Conformist

Alex Littlefield
Thomas Bartlett is used to sharing the spotlight.  As the founder and single steady member of the ever-changing indie super-group Doveman, he's a sort of musical maypole -- a fixture around which other artists rally to celebrate their craft.  Norah Jones, Sam Amidon, Nico Muhly, most of The National, and a host of other well-known musicians pitched in on his latest full-length release, The Conformist, which hit stores last Tuesday.  It's a haunting, ethereal, and beautifully melodic album, and Barlett's airy voice is the undeniable show-stealer -- which begs the question: does he really need all the help?

At the album's release party in a friend's Chelsea apartment on Friday night, Bartlett again split the bill with some well-known musical pals. Hunched over a grand piano and accompanied by a string quartet, he performed a handful of songs from The Conformist before dismissing his accompanists and inviting up some other musicial guests: Sean Lennon and his comely girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl; honey-throated chanteuse Jennifer Charles (of Elysian Fields); musician-cum-performance artist Justin Bond (he of Kiki and Herb fame); and folk songstress Dawn Landes.  Oh yeah -- Bryce Dessner of The National lent some guitar accompaniment while cross-legged on the floor, and Sufjan Stevens' trumpet player C.J. Camerieri contributed some well-placed solos from the couch.

The creative camaraderie seemed too perfect to be true -- and then the host revealed that Bartlett's first visit to the apartment had been for a musical salon held there.  Suddenly, Doveman's come-as-you-will composition made a lot more sense.

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