Joe Danks: Seaspeak overview – a partial slice of maritime historical past
One of the more odd outcomes of lockdown was a TikTok-driven craze for sea shanties, bringing hundreds of thousands of hits for vintage tales of whale-hunting and sail-hauling – straightforward, communal singalongs to alleviate gruelling work. There are, alas, no shanties on Seaspeak, the results of Joe Danks’s 12-month residency on the Nationwide Maritime Museum in Greenwich, although there are instrumental hornpipes, quadrilles and step dancing. Elsewhere, Danks’s sturdy, melodic voice is variously joined by guitar, bodhrán, fiddle, accordion and harp.
The album’s 10 tracks supply a slice of maritime historical past, although one skewed away from hardships properly documented in people custom; tedium, scurvy, press gangs, merciless captains, capricious mermaids and offended whales. As a substitute, we’re served John Masefield’s soft-centred poetry, Ewan MacColl’s Candy Thames Circulate Softly, and hunters’ favorite John Peel, which was sung on Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition however sits oddly right here.
Danks pays tribute to the useless of Twentieth-century sea battles on 308 and Jutland 1916, and a swelling model of Man of Battle honours Nelson and Turner’s portray of the battle of Trafalgar. Of the maritime slave commerce there may be scant signal, regardless of the museum’s spectacular Atlantic gallery – a possibility missed. Worthy however underwhelming.