This album, Seal's second, may be his best. The production work by Trevor Horn remains among his best work - the two artists seem designed to compliment each other.
It's a bit of a contradictory piece of work, though, because on the one hand you have lyrical whimsy which waftily alludes to drug-taking and paints Utopian dreamscapes - and on the other have po-faced social commentary, like "Prayer for the Dying". Would the real Seal please stand up?
I think he's the folky troubadour who got all danced-up by Mr Horn, first and foremost. Not that this is a dance album. Far from it. In fact there is very little here that is up-tempo.
What there is, though, is some really interesting song-writing, some great musicianship, first class production, and that velvet, beautiful vocal. It would be a fascinating thing indeed to hear what a different producer would do with his work over the course of a whole album.
My main gripe, and the thing which stops it getting 5 stars, is the fact that there are no individual great songs on it, for me. The album, as a homogenic whole, is a wonderful listen - but I don't always want to listen to a whole album, I sometimes want to cherry-pick a few tracks - and these don't seem to stand up to that too well. They're interesting, sure - but classic? There's no 'Crazy' on this album.
Having said that, my favourite track (though not quite classic) would have to be the duet with Joni Mitchell, "If I Could", which is beautifully realised - the two husky voices playing off each other to great effect.
As an album, then - fabulous. The tracks individually? Less so. The production? Pretty peerless. Recommended.