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Doveman, aka Harlem-based musician Thomas Bartlett, proved his cover chops when he took on Radiohead’s “Airbag” for OKX. He’s spent the last year proving himself a popular sideman playing/recording with David Byrne, the National, Martha Wainwright, Antony, Bebel Gilberto. (I met him and drank his booze in Norway while he was playing with Yoko Ono.) Setting his sights higher than a single song, and putting together his first complete collection since 2007′s With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead, he’s decided to take on the entire Footloose soundtrack. The reasoning behind it is pretty intense. As his childhood friend Gabriel Greenberg, who incidentally did the cover illustrations for both Doveman albums, writes:

When I was very young, my half-sister Jenny died tragically. She was a teenager, and it was the 80′s. She left behind a wardrobe of brightly colored clothes, rainbow stickers, life-size paintings, doodles on lined paper, and hundreds of tapes. These constitute most of my memories of her. It’s sad for me to look at these things, and usually I don’t. But a couple of summers ago I found a tape of hers with a startling cover photograph — this was Footloose. I couldn’t stop listening: it was a portrait of 80′s love, desire, pain, freedom, and frenzy; of being a teenager in a time of change. By listening, I could step into Jenny’s shoes, see things from her vantage point. I could be emancipated by rock and roll and walkmen, just as she had been. We could listen together.

I asked my friend Thomas to cover the album, which, sheltered as he is, he had never heard before. I was clear that I wanted to him to cover the whole album – the point wasn’t to rework any one song, but to re-imagine the picture they made together. With a new Footloose. we could reply to the past, tell our own story about being young.

Take a listen to the title track. He’s more hushed than Kenny Loggins.

Pretty moving, even without the back story. You can listen to the rest of Doveman’s whispery Footloose here. He’s heading out on tour in support of With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead with composer/Björk collaborator Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon. They’ll all be collaborating and playing their own sets, etc. Maybe request some Footloose:

08/14 – Seattle, WA @ Triple Door
08/15 – Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theater
08/16 – Vancouver, BC @ Media Club
08/18 – San Francisco, CA @ Swedish American Hall
08/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Hotel Cafe
08/21 – Alexandria, VA @ The Birchmere
08/22 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church Sanctuary
08/23 – New York, NY @ LPR
08/24 – Boston, MA @ Museum of Fine Arts
08/26 – Montreal, PQ @ La Sala Rossa
08/27 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall w/ Final Fantasy
08/28 – Chicago, IL @ Lakeshore Theater

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Comments (11)
  1. I’ve never seen Fooloose start to finish, just parts. But I’m surprised how much of the soundtrack I recognize. Doveman’s takes are really lovely.

  2. dan  |   Posted on Jun 28th, 2008 0

    i saw the swell season last summer in nyc (the people from the film “once”) and he was backing them.

  3. A couple of years ago I heard Doveman’s cover of Chris Whitley’s “Loco Girl,” and I was amazed: the sustain-y piano, the whispered close-miked vocals, the glacial tempo – it was revelatory.

    By this point, though, it’s become a shtick. I knew what this was gonna sound like before I opened the mp3 file. I’m not saying that an artist needs to completely reinvent himself for every project, but this Doveman is starting to sound like a one-trick bird.

    • agreed  |   Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 0

      i think you’re right on the money.
      the acrobat acrobat was great, but even “with my left hand…” it was kinda stale. this is much the same as well.
      it would be great to see him change up the tempo a little and get a little less, well, gloomy.

    • You have to look at Thomas’s work in the aggregate. He’s not just a solo artist – you can hear him loud and clear on The National’s Boxer, Sam Amidon’s albums, etc.

  4. When’s this due out?

  5. Oops, I’m retarded, nvm

  6. ak  |   Posted on Jul 21st, 2008 0

    anyone know where i can still download it – it’s been taken down from his site.

  7. I have recently bought Acrobat and Conformist; both terrrific albums!
    With the left Hand I Raise the Dead being still on my wishlist, I had not been aware of this rendition here, wow, what I treat!
    Being a child of the seventies, a music and dance lover, footloose really stands for the soundtrack of my own youth and I still enjoy listening to it. I need to find Doveman’s album to listen to it in its entirety! Aaahhh :)

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