I first listened to this song because The National told me to; New York City artist Doveman (aka Thomas Bartlett) is their longtime friend and collaborator, and here The National return the favor by essentially becoming his backing band on a gorgeous album, which they released on their own Brassland Records.
This song is a stinging arrow of beautiful ache, melancholy and somehow lovely. I relate to the way it weaves a dense layer of complex feelings, looking back at promises of magic somewhere amidst the whiskey sea.
Angel’s Share (with Matt Berninger) – Doveman
You always played a stonewall game
but I’ll get past you anyway
a flick of the wrist and it’s straight through your heart
when you’re feeling sad
remember how we fell upon an accident of paradise
So drink your fill, pretty baby
drink down that whiskey sea
and drink your fill, my darling
but save the angel’s share for me
If I were drowning, baby
drowning in your deep blue sea
if you want to rescue someone blue…
please don’t rescue me
In addition to Matt Berninger’s haunting baritone on the album, other collaborators include National bandmates the Dessner brothers and Bryan Devendorf, as well as Beth Orton, Martha Wainwright, Nico Muhly (of this) and Glen Hansard of The Frames/Swell Season (who I see tonight). It packs a pretty immense punch.
This living room performance with string quartet, trumpets, and guest appearances by Sean Lennon and Bryce Dessner was from the album release party last month. The simplicity and spare sadness of this rendition made me cry. Or maybe it’s just something in the air.
Doveman just completed a string of tour dates opening for the Swell Season, but is sadly not still with them tonight for their Denver show. The only current tour dates listed are a handful of shows in New York.
The Conformist is out now on Brassland Records. As Hansard says of it, “The Conformist is just fucking beautiful. Thomas brings so much light to other people’s music, it’s great to see him stop long enough to apply that light to his profound sense of song. He’s not afraid to go in, in where the good stuff is, in where you might get lost without a compass — in and deeper in.” Here’s to compasses, and where the good stuff is.