Posted July 15, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

New York Under Lockdown Inspired Thomas Bartlett’s New Album

Thomas Bartlett photo by York Tillyer
Thomas Bartlett photo by York Tillyer

Pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett has just released “Lucida,” a single from his forthcoming debut solo album, Shelter, which arrives on July 24. Bartlett wrote the album, a collection of eight piano nocturnes, as a love letter to his partner, British actress and singer Ella Hunt, as well as to New York, his home for 21 years. He recorded the album in his home over two days following the beginning of lockdown. 

Over the past two decades, Bartlett has performed around the world both as Doveman and alongside the National, David Byrne, Nico Muhly, Anohni, and his own supergroup, the Gloaming. As a producer, the Vermont-born Bartlett has collaborated with St. Vincent, Rhye, Yoko Ono, Mandy Patinkin, and Sufjan Stevens, with whom he earned Academy Award and Grammy nods for “Mystery of Love,” featured on the soundtrack to 2017’s Call Me By Your Name.

With his studio empty after lockdown, Bartlett found solace in a musical form dear to him since childhood. Traditionally inspired by the night, the nocturne inspired Bartlett as a young musician.

“In the total strangeness of the moment and the lockdown,” Bartlett says in a press release, “I gave myself permission to do a thing that I don’t usually do, in terms of how these pieces to me are kind of shameless in their sentimentality.”

Bartlett says he found being in the city after so many people had left to be “wrenching.”

“There’s a space that I really love to be in, as a listener, and as a player,” he says. “It’s a feeling of arrival, and comfort, and peace. It’s an easy place for me to get to, but one that I’m suspicious of because of that.”

Bartlett sent the album to trusted friends Sam Amidon and Annie Clarke to seek their honest opinions.

“They both wrote back and were like, ‘Get over yourself, put it out, it’s really beautiful!’” says Bartlett. “This is where I can let go a little bit, and I can say, ‘Okay, stop worrying about whether you’ve earned the prettiness.’ You didn’t need something to overwhelm; you needed something to calm — and so that’s how I’ve come to peace with it.”

Photo credit: York Tillyer


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected]