Thomas Bartlett is one of the most active and wide-ranging collaborators on New York City’s independent music scene. In a single month, his contributions to other artists’ recordings and tours might take him across the U.S., Europe and South America—each place the site of a different venture. Doveman is the project through which Bartlett steps forward as a songwriter and front man, and on his new album, The Conformist, his closest cohorts—including members of The National, Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon—take their turn to contribute to his work.

Produced by Grammy Award winner Patrick Dillett (David Byrne, Caetano Veloso, Mary J. Blige), The Conformist finds Bartlett singing in his unique voice throughout, in addition to playing multiple instruments. Though Bartlett is classically trained and technically proficient—he dropped out of high school to study in London with Maria Curcio—the album’s eleven tracks are mostly straightforward pop-rock songs; much of their richness lies in the atmospheric soundscape in which Bartlett situates his compositions. He performs the music with a core band that includes The National members Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf; Nico Muhly; longtime Doveman member Sam Amidon; and a string section.

The Conformist also features a number of surprising guest vocal performances, with turns by Martha Wainwright, Matt Berninger (The National) and Norah Jones, among others.

Following Doveman’s acclaimed, start-to-finish cover of the Footloose soundtrack in 2008, The Conformist is Bartlett’s first collection of original material since 2007’s With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead. Simultaneous with his Doveman work, Bartlett has collaborated regularly with Antony, The National, Glen Hansard (of the Oscar-winning Swell Season and The Frames, and a contributor to The Conformist) Bebel Gilberto, Martha Wainwright and many others.

Last updated: July 1, 2013