As the years go by, I just can’t believe how many artists are recording covers albums. It seems to have started with Rod Stewart and his never-ending songbook series, which spawned a whole host of his peers delivering new interpretations of old standards. The latest, of course, is Stewart’s old mate one Paul McCartney, who has just dropped an impressive set called Kisses On The Bottom on us. It seems though that the trend has moved on to the genre of soul music as again the list of artists attempting these much-loved classics is growing by the day.
Seal added himself to that list a few years ago with 2008’s Soul, which I found to be flat and a little schmaltzy. As such, I was never going to purchase this new collection from him (simply titled Soul 2) at all. All of that changed about two weeks ago when I was trawling the internet late one night and stumbled upon Seal’s version of the old Rose Royce hit “Wishing On A Star,” which blew me away so much that the next day I went out and purchased this disc.
Now, not everything here sounds as good as that song nor does it always work for me, but I have to say it is a huge improvement on Seal’s previous set of covers. Seal has too often sounded like everybody else and not enough like himself. What I mean is the guy has a really beautiful voice, but so much of the time he sounds like he is holding back or trying to fit in the at times questionable material he has delivered. There have been forays into Euro Pop and dance music, as well as a few too many sappy ballads for my liking.
But as a young man, he was capable of some brilliant things, which he showed with his stunning self-titled debut album way back in 1991. So the most pleasing thing for me when listening to this record is that it sounds like he has allowed himself more freedom to let go and feel the songs out a bit more; also, his vocal performances here are some of his finest ever.
That version of “Wishing On A Star” is epic, and his voice soars over a killer track that far exceeds the original. More standouts come in the form of the sexy “Love T.K.O.” and the beautiful “Ooh Baby Baby.” There is a faithful and earnest reading of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and funky version of “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” both of which sound tailor-made for Seal’s voice and he sounds very comfortable singing them.
Things stay funky with a cool version of “Back Stabbers” and a sweet but slightly watered-down cover of Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On.” Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” is a great song, but maybe this is just one cover too many. I don’t like the arrangement and Seal could have done more with the delivery as well. A couple more sweet moments with “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” and “Oh Girl” and we are all done here.
Soul 2 is a nice, charming enough album of covers that breaks no new ground nor convinces me to become a Seal fan, but it was worth every cent for that stunning version of “Wishing On A Star.”
|I'm going to get this CD. I got the first Soul album and loved every cut. If the reviewer is saying he thinks this album is better than the last one,FLAT??. Then this has to be a great album. Any readers intersted in Seal's first Soul album, beleive me if you love and know R&B music. You will love it. It is NOT FLAT!|