Love remains the most powerful muse of all. How many poets, authors, musicians, filmmakers, and artists have pondered that four-letter word endlessly? How many times has it been uttered in song, written in print, or invoked on film? Still, it’s as elusive as it is essential, and it’s something that everyone tirelessly chases. Seal explores love and all of its implications, idiosyncrasies, and intricacies on his seventh full-length album, 7 [Reprise]. In order to give this universality its due, the Grammy Award-winning multiplatinum singer and songwriter began to delicately approach the subject as early
as 2013, knowing exactly where he wanted to go.
“The album concerns the most sung about, most talked about, and most documented emotion—love,” he affirms. “I tried to capture all of the wonderfully different dynamics of love, whether it’s the anger, the acceptance, the bliss, the sadness, the elation, or the recklessness. It’s this emotion and the ways it makes us feel. It’s about the extreme joy and the extreme regret as well as all of the crazy things love makes us do.”
While writing, Seal knew that he had to open up like never before. Early sessions yielded “good songs,” as he describes them, but he wanted to dig deeper. After some intense soul searching, he would start over and rewrite everything in order to uncover something just as intangible as love: the truth.
“What is the cost of being a musician?” he asks. “What is the cost of basically being allowed to sing your biography? Well, you have to tell the truth, not only that, but you have to do so in a way that’s objective, because it will affect you and those around you. That’s why it took me a while to make the record. I’d continue to scrap lyrics, because I was being too subjective. As soon as I did that, that’s when everything came into focus.”
In order to properly tell this tale, he reunited with longtime collaborator producer Trevor Horn. This continued a storied partnership that began with his debut, 1991’s platinum-certified Seal, continued with the quadruple-platinum Seal II , the gold-selling Human Being  and Seal IV , and most recently Soul 2 . As a result, there’s an unspoken, yet unbreakable bond they share.
“We barely spoke about music in the studio,” Seal admits. “We talked more about life and our relationship over the years. He just understands how to place my voice. On the one hand, you have this elaborate production and signature of Trevor Horn, but you never lose sight of what it is I’m saying. That’s the narrative. There’s no producer who understands how to sustain and keep focused on the narrative of my voice and what I’m trying to say better than Trevor does. He pushes me, and we left it all on the court. He taught me a work ethic and approach to making records that will stay with me until the
day I die.”
The first single “Every Time I’m With You” begins with a stark piano melody punctuated by Seal’s instantly recognizable croon. The song builds into a climactic, soulful refrain that resounds over a rich musical panorama.
“I just tried to imagine the one thing your significant other would most want to hear from you,” he says. “You ask your partner, ‘Why do you love me? Why are you with me?’ and the response is, ‘There are many reasons, but one of the main reasons is, every time I’m with you, I feel wanted.’ I can’t think of many things that are more beautiful, which I’d either want to say or hear. It was my attempt at being romantic! Whether or not, I achieved it, only time will tell,” he laughs.
Elsewhere, Seal goes right to the heart of the club with a “Life On The Dancefloor,” which pairs a syncopated house beat wrapped in horns with a massive hook. “You’re dancing with this beautiful person, and you’re being seduced by the movement, the body language, the eye contact, and everything on the dancefloor,” he smiles.
The singer artfully juxtaposes that spark with the intense wail of “Padded Cell” bolstered by propulsive synths and a robust delivery. However, the record’s centerpiece is a personal favorite of his the somber, yet striking “The Big Love Has Died.”
“That’s as completely unapologetic and uncompromised as the rest of the songs are,” he remarks. “It definitely has a special place in my heart. If that were an Anton Chekhov play, it would be the tragedy at the end of Act Three. It would be the death of something. That’s what I had in mind while writing and performing it. I’m so proud of this song.”
Everything culminates on “Love.” Pairing his voice with just a piano, it’s his most vulnerable and vital moment as he declares, “Love only makes you strong, love only makes you heal, love only hates with love.”
“My belief and commitment to love is stronger now than it’s ever been,” he goes on.
“That’s why the album ends there.”
Love seamlessly extends Seal’s legacy. Originally born in London, his inimitable voice was first heard on Adamski’s 1991 club smash “Killer.” Another Top 10 hit “Crazy” arrived shortly thereafter as Seal went on to achieve global acclaim with his debut, even winning the prestigious BRIT Award for “Best British Male” in 1992. Songs such as the legendary “Kiss From a Rose” would turn him into a superstar as he received three Grammy Awards in the categories of “Song of the Year,” “Record of the Year,” and
“Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.” His worldwide album sales exceed 15 million to date. Outside of the studio and beyond the stage, he served as a coach on The Voice Australia during 2012 and 2013.
Ultimately, 7 sees him share this love with the world.
“I just want people to feel,” he leaves off. “We live in a society where we’re constantly confronted by the harsh realities of our surroundings. There’s disaster everywhere. If we absorbed that, we’d self-destruct, so we anesthetize as a culture. We turn off and become numb. My attempt and duty as an artist is to help people feel. In doing so, I want them to connect but not necessarily with me, but themselves. One of my mantras is Strength Through Vulnerability. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we’re truly
in possession of our strength, and we can love.”