The follow-up to the 2008 covers album Soul finds Seal treading on hallowed ground: the tracklisting includes cornerstones of American popular music such as What's Going On and Let's Stay Together. His voice and interpretive skills are such, though, that most tracks fit him like a glove, to the point where, on Rose Royce's Wishing on a Star, his oak-aged vocal seems a better fit for the remorseful lyric than original singer Gwen Dickey's. He grew up with these 1970s hits, and evidently reveres them, but isn't cowed by them – save for Let's Stay Together, which is sung in a higher key than normal, precisely imitating Al Green. If Seal's performances are largely unimpeachable, producers David Foster and Trevor Horn could have shaken up the arrangements more. Most follow the original templates– only on Bill Withers's Lean on Me, where warm keyboard washes replace the original's gospel handclaps, do they extend themselves.
Seal: Soul 2 – review
Caroline Sullivan writes about rock and pop for the Guardian