Hits - And Misses

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Seal is an unlikely superstar who sells millions of records and poses nude on the cover of his present — and previous — CD. He made his way in the music industry via the English dance scene and eventually scored a mega-hit with the Batman-related "Kiss from a Rose." The guy has scars on his face and a voice that can launch a thousand ships.

How does it all add up on his new record? That depends on what you're looking for.

The disc does boast the superb production of Seal's mentor Trevor Horn and that in itself is no small thing. The sound on this recording is so deep that you almost drown in it. With Seal's voice as the lead instrument and every other bit of music painstakingly arranged to embellish his message, one couldn't have asked for a more well-constructed effort.

The almost-title track, "Human Being," is a soulful piece of product that displays all of Seal's strengths and does little to reveal his weaknesses as a human being. The songform is practically majestic as Seal sings about how tough it is to be a vulnerable person. The next track, "State of Grace," maintains this high standard of seductive aural quality but after that, the songs flatten out pretty quickly.

Like many big-deal albums, the two or three "singles" are groomed for hit status and the rest of the project is moderate filler. Still, if you're a Seal fan, you won't be disappointed. He is, after all, only human.

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