Seal album




Seal resThe list keeps growing: Rod Stewart, Bryan Ferry, Robbie Williams, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Annie Lennox and Bob Dylan are among the many pop stars to have a shot at singing jazz standards – with varying levels of success or embarrassment. Now it’s Seal’s turn, and the good news is that his instincts for the idiom are keener than most, specifically his instinct for phrasing. He understands that to sing against a swung rhythm demands a certain elasticity of phrasing, or a wretched stiltedness results.

It helps that he has a voice so smoky that it probably should carry an air-quality health alert, lending both conviction and distinctiveness to anything from Luck Be a Lady to My Funny Valentine, with Smile and It Was a Very Good Year being his standout interpretations. Perhaps the song choices fall too close to the epicentre of the standard repertoire, and when he does deviate it is to something lame like Anyone Who Knows What Love Is. The orchestral arrangements are predictably luxuriant, leavened by a pithy solo or two, the main surprise being that Seal suffers from moments of pitch insecurity on some longer notes. Perhaps he needs a coach.