Seaman's Quartet (Herkemer)
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Oct. 29, 1999
(Herkemer)On their eponymous debut, Seaman's Quartet present 11 eloquent, polished songs about the sweet ache of love and the heart's eternal hope. Seaman's Quartet -- quintet, really -- features Larry Seaman, veteran of Austin's music scene since he headed one of the best local bands of the punk/ new wave era, Standing Waves. Seaman wrote or co-wrote all the songs here and sings them with guitarist/songwriter Jill Whiteside, though her vocals seem less for duet's sake than to cannily punctuate the music. This works well on the music's behalf: When her voice first glides in solo on "Romeo Bleeding," it's like a warm current in cool waters, while on "Loud," it flows like a river into the ocean. Seaman's songwriting has developed that rich patina that only time can imbue, making songs like "Another House" and "Marie Listen" throb wistfully with universal poignancy. Not all on Seaman's Quartet is introspective, though. On "And I Fall," Seaman's punk stripes are showing, suggesting that in this band's framework, some of his old Standing Waves material would be excellent. In the radio-friendly "Trashbag," the lyrical imagery evokes one of the most memorable scenes in the film American Beauty. If Seaman's Quartet sometimes suggest the Reivers, it's not just because Seaman and Whiteside have voices that harmonize with a languid grace, but also because bassist Cindy Toth is a veteran of both bands. Toth's patient rhythm blends with drummer John Arredondo, and Frank Kammerdiener's cello is the gorgeous thread running through the album's material. Seaman's Quartet may not get the critical attention of its peers, but this CD can sit on the same shelf as those of Alejandro Escovedo and Mike Hall.