In the first half of 2008, Toni, Arlo, Leroy and I lived back in New Zealand while I was on sabbatical leave. One thing I wanted to do was track down my father, who I had not seen for over 30 years. If nothing else I intended to give him photos of two grandsons he didn't know he had. All I knew was that he was likely living rough in the Australian outback. Within a week of being in Auckland, the police called to advise that my father's body had been found at a remote campsite in South Australia.

Four months later, before returning to Chicago, we took a driving trip around New Zealand, and stayed a few days with Richard Tollenaar and Kaye McGarva near Havelock North. Richard, who has a nice recording setup in a shed behind their house, seemed to sense my degree of disturbance, and encouraged me to get something down... anything. Over two days we recorded these sketches of four songs I had been carrying around in my mind and fingers for a little while, and modifying each time I could find the will to pick up a guitar.

I took my American Deluxe Stratocaster, Little Martin acoustic, and a small Fender Champion amp to New Zealand for that long stay, and used them for all the guitar parts except the lead on Hold Me, which I played on a nylon string acoustic of Richard's. Though it's probably hard to tell, these songs are unified by common themes of grief, hope, and the risks and rewards of love in all its forms. I had done little recording and no singing at all for over 20 years, and it shows. However, as a consequence of Richard's drive and patience, I was able to confront my grief and acknowledge the crucial role creativity plays in who I am and how I function, something I had been in denial of for a long time. For these reasons, I share the recordings as necessary testimony.

Pearl is dedicated to Paul Hester and Walter Selby Sheridan.

GIVE THE PLAYER 30 SECONDS OR SO TO LOAD

Bruis Sheridan: all compositions, guitars & lead vocals

Richard Tollenaar: drums, keyboards, background vocals & recordings