Soul 2, the eighth studio album from British vocalist Seal, is a beautiful set of 70s soul covers and an album steeped in nostalgia. It’s also the sequel to his 2008 album Soul, another set of reverential covers that culled inspiration from the 60s.
The singer’s been on a worldwide media tour promoting Soul 2, though he’s recently been in the news more for his marriage troubles with supermodel Heidi Klum than his music, even talking about said troubles during an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Some think he may be holding out hope for his marriage as evidenced by his still wearing his wedding ring at the NRJ Music Awards in Cannes this past Saturday.
So, in an odd, karmic sort of way, this is the perfect time for Seal to drop Soul 2. Each of the eleven songs (covering artists such as Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, and Al Green) are deeply affecting and emotional, and one can’t help but wonder exactly how much the crooner’s personal issues impacted his time in the recording booth.
And that’s what this is all about, right? The music. How does Soul 2‘s collection of soul classics fare?
1. “Wishing on a Star” – A-
Seal’s interpretation of the Rose Royce classic almost seems like a plea to his estranged wife Heidi. “I feel it’s time we should make up, baby/I feel it’s time for us to get back together.” Great album opener.
2. “Love TKO” – A+
Seal’s raspy timbre is perfect for this flawless recreation of Teddy Pendergrass‘ lush, mellow soul classic. Again, is he addressing Heidi here?
3. “Ooh Baby Baby” – A
Seal shines on this faithful version of The Miracles signature song.
4. “Let’s Stay Together” – A-
5. “What’s Going On” – B
If there’s a misstep on the album, it may be this remake of Marvin Gaye’s classic. Whereas the original had an ethereal-yet-gritty quality about it, Seal’s lush interpretation is spit-shined to perfection. Though it lacks punch, it’s still a great sounding song.
6. “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” – A
Seal gets passionate on this beautiful torch song, which is his second trip to the Rose Royce well. Quite honestly, you can hear the heartache in his vocals. Makes you wonder how much his wife was on his mind during the recording of this song.
7. “Backstabbers” – A
Seal delivers once again with this near-perfect rendition of The O’Jays’ ode to deceptive friends.
8. “I’ll Be Around” – A-
Beautifully arranged and orchestrated, this remake of The Spinners‘ hit is a definite winner.
9. “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” – A
Turn down the lights and groove to this slow-burning take on Major Harris‘ soul classic.
10. “Lean On Me” – A-
Seal takes us to church on Bill Withers’ hymn of friendship, though, admittedly, the absence of the original’s gospel handclaps make one feel the spirit just a little less.
11. “Oh Girl” – A-
“Oh girl/I’d be in trouble if you left me now/’Cause I don’t know where to look for love/I just don’t know how.” Wow. What a way for Seal to close the album, using The Chi-Lites to express to Heidi how their impending break-up will affect him.
Overall Grade: A-
Our Recommendation: BUY
Our Favorite Tracks: “Love TKO,” “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “Backstabbers,” “Love Won’t Let Me Wait”
Seal knew what he was doing with the creation of Soul 2. By selecting indelible hits from soul’s golden era and infusing them with his own style and a contemporary polish, he’s crafted an album that respects its heritage while reimagining the classics for today’s listeners.
What are your thoughts on Soul 2? Let us know in the comments below.