Although he worked in funk and blues bands early in his career, Seal is by no means a classic soul singer. He's been virtually everything else, starting with house music in his native London, and later turning to various flavors of adult contemporary and pop music. But the power and sincerity of his voice is indisputably great, which makes him a natural to sing soul music -- where passion and conviction are prerequisites.
Seal here tackles a dozen market-tested R&B gems (including ”A Change Is Gonna Come” and ”Stand by Me”) with guidance from producer David Foster, who’s also helmed mom-friendly blockbusters by Josh Groban and Michael Bublé. As always, Seal sounds great; age has relaxed his singing, and that lends the material an appropriately lived-in vibe. But Foster’s lush arrangements can wring the urgency from heartstring- tuggers like ”I’m Still in Love With You,” which on Soul feels more like a come-on than a confession.
All the accoutrements are in place for an album that portends to celebrate soul: Loosened tie? Check. Vintage microphone? Check. Tinted black and white photograph? Check. Whose visage is that with eyes closed and parted lips? No, not Ryan Shaw. It’s Seal, and just in case the visual cues escaped ….