Donnie Doolittle is a Charlotte-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Although Doolittle studied piano and guitar as a child, he cut his teeth fronting a series of popular local bands in the early 2000s, including garage pop act Stone Figs, doom rock outfit Little Bull Lee and dark, psychedelic solo project Dreamy D.
Back in 2018, Doolittle recorded the first version of upbeat psuedo-lovesong “When a Woman,” a song inspired by 1970s Aussie thrilled Wake in Fright, while visiting his friend, producer Jesse Clasen in New York. Originally conceived as a Dreamy D, the collaboration marked a shift in his songwriting and creative process, and later became the first single under his own name. “That song just felt different: I was evolving, and I wanted to start fresh, releasing tracks under my own name,” he says. “The new music feels more true to who I am as an artist and as a person.”
As a solo artist, Doolittle crafts moody, synth driven material that hover between dark, retro-pop and melancholy rock that blends bright, pop-leaning melodies into ominous and cinematic soundscapes. Described as “Southern New Wave,” to “Goth Americana” by the press, his genre-bending sound has frequently been compared to Orville Peck, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, and Iggy Pop. He pairs each release with carefully-honed imagery and thematic narrative videos, meant to engage a range of senses. “I want to provide a full experience—to use my resources to create a palpable ambiance,” Doolittle says.
Doolittle’s Jesse Clasen-produced self-titled, full-length debut is slated for an April 7, 2023 release. The 12-song album reportedly features arrangements that weave together modern and vintage synths (most notably, the Mellotron and 80s-era Roland Juno 106) with electric guitar, bass and drums to create songs that drift mood-wise between vibrant and gloomy. Informed by Doolittle’s love of the work of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Lee Hazlewood, the album’s cinematic arrangements help to draw listeners into multifaceted sonic worlds, laced with sharp, narrative lyrics that touch upon religion, gender, pop culture and sexuality with a light, subtly ironic touch. “I like to play around with religion and sex,” says Doolittle. “Feeling jaded about God and the world, but also firmly attached to both. I think that’s a big part of Southern culture, and who I am as an artist…for better or worse.”
Along with the album announcement, Doolittle shared the album’s latest single, the slow-burning and broodingly cinematic “Resurrect Me.” Featuring twangy and reverb-drenched guitars, glistening and atmospheric synths paired with Doolittle’s baritone paired with big hooks and a buzzing guitar solo, “Resurrect Me” manages to sound a bit like a synthesis of the Twin Peaks soundtrack, Bruce Springsteen‘s “Tunnel of Love” and Orville Peck, while rooted in a bittersweet heartache.
“I started writing this song after learning about so-called ‘resurrection men,’ body snatchers in the 18th and 19th centuries that would exhume corpses from graveyards and sell them to medical schools for research and teaching purposes,” Doolittle explains. “I was interested in the idea of someone seeing value in these buried and abandoned vessels, and putting in the work to give them a second chance at showing their worth above ground. I related to the dead people in this scenario.”
Directed by North Carolina-based producer and director Josh Rob Thomas, the accompanying video is a darkly hilarious visual that follows Doolittle’s corpse on a wild adventure as its passed along a rotation cast of odd companions. “As heavy as the inspiration was, I thought we could lighten the mood with the video. Influenced by absurd films like Weekend at Bernie’s (which didn’t age too well) and Swiss Army Man, we took my corpse on an adventure with a rotating cast of companions,” Doolittle explains. “Fun was had with most of them, but only one character cared enough to put me to rest. I’ve assembled a very talented production team and we stepped up our game for this one. I hope you enjoy it.”