seaman dan – perfect pearl

seaman dan is a fantastic torres strait crooner backed by blended jazz, blues and a bit of country. he sings mostly about the absolutely simple things in island life – perhaps something unwittingly dreamed of by large parts of the population, and if nothing else a lesson in where to find happiness. not a physical place, but the things around any person that can create joy.

he invokes mangoes, frangipani and eskies of beer in just the first song, going back home. there is unmistakable humour and warmth in his voice and his words. he was 74 years old when perfect pearl was released – after having been a pearl diver and captain in tropical seas across the north of australia, as well as other tough occupations such as a miner and taxi driver.

my most favourite song on this album is veiga, veiga, which draws on close cultural links between the torres strait and papua new guinea, as well as seaman dan’s own personal connections. it is sung in language and exudes an energy like no other piece of music i know, based just on the rhythm and basic melody of acoustic guitar and ukulele, and beautiful harmonised vocals. it concludes, memories sweet ones i’ve been waiting for, i want them to stay with me a while.

i thought it was impossible for anyone to hear this song and not have their heart carried, though this was disappointingly disproved by a dead shit of a man who heard it on the stereo in my car one day. i willingly and actively removed that from my life, because who needs such negative energy?

to wit, this is practically the opposite of every other album in the collection, not just for the stories it tells. there is no sense of hardship in the music, when it’s clear that he would have been through far worse in his life than most younger musicians who sing about complicated and depressing subjects. while this sometimes verges on the kitsch, the genuine place from which seaman dan crafts and tells his music makes that impossible.


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