Doveman and 'The Acrobat'

Before he entered his teens, Thomas Bartlet had already proven himself a music phenomenon by releasing an album with the folk group Popcorn Behavior. Now 23, Bartlett continues to make incredible music. His latest project, called Doveman has produced the new CD The Acrobat.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Musician Thomas Bartlett is just 23 years old, and he already has got quite a bit of experience. His first album of folk music was released when he was just 12. His latest band is called Doveman. Marika Partridge has a review of the group's new album; it's called "The Acrobat."

(Soundbite of music)

MARIKA PARTRIDGE reporting:

Spare, lonely, careful, restrained--this is the band Doveman, a debut CD called "The Acrobat." It's a balance of keyboards and banjo with cornet, violin, guitar and this odd voice.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. THOMAS BARTLETT: (Singing) She'd often turn to look at me and tell me that the worst was yet to come. ...(Unintelligible) too fast, history's (unintelligible) on my tongue.

PARTRIDGE: The composer/pianist/vocalist is Thomas Bartlett, 23 years old and already a significant keyboardist on the downtown New York rock scene. He started singing quite recently. For years he hated the sound of his own voice. He found it downright embarrassing.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. BARTLETT: (Singing) ...(Unintelligible).

PARTRIDGE: He's always been a strong instrumentalist. By age nine, Bartlett was a competent guitarist, strumming backup chords for jigs and reels at folk dances in Brattleboro, Vermont. By 11, he'd switched to piano. He was 12 at his first record release party for the band Popcorn Behavior, Thomas on piano and his childhood friend Sam Amidon on fiddle. The band made three CDs.

(Soundbite of music)

PARTRIDGE: Thomas Bartlett decided to quit high school to study classical piano full-time. After that, he and his friend Sam Amidon went back to playing together, Bartlett on piano and Amidon now on banjo. `Five years ago,' says Bartlett, `if you had said my music would sound like this, I would have laughed out loud.'

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. BARTLETT: (Singing) To walk through life together across the fields of (unintelligible). I could die here in your arms, but I'm not sure (unintelligible).

PARTRIDGE: Bartlett played at his uncle's funeral when he was 14. The atmosphere he created was just right. He noticed that the more stripped-down his melody, the more intense the experience for his listeners. Now the rapt audience gathers in small venues in downtown Manhattan to take note of this young musical acrobat, purposefully turning slow cartwheels, reminding us that bleak is beautiful.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. BARTLETT: (Singing) I will ...(unintelligible) this time I won't fall, this time I won't call ...(unintelligible)...

SIEGEL: The album is "The Acrobat" from the band Doveman. Our reviewer is Marika Partridge.

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