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Seal IV (DVD-A)
New to Seal, save perhaps for hearing chunks of it on a radio station I was skipping past or while shopping at the mall, I placed this Seal IV in my player with some trepidation. It had probably been 10 years since I'd even come across the performer's name. He was firmly mired in the bland, radio-friendly genre of "adult contemporary," a Grammy winner whose music never really appealed to this listener. So now you know where I'm coming from.
I've now listened to this DVD-A presentation a couple of times, and although its pop rhythms still haven't provoked any excitement out of me, they have a certain top-40 catchiness. Seal IV seems to be in tune with Seal's past work, offering up a voice-centric collection of love songs, slick rhythm and blues, and dance numbers. I find myself wondering if Seal still has an audience, and whether his Grammy-era popularity is still a factor. I imagine that such an audience would find this material satisfying, even though it doesn't seem too groundbreaking. But there's a comfort in sameness, I suppose.
In the opening song, "Get It Together," Seal insists that "everyone we know is beautiful" and exhorts his audience to "keep this world together"—a rather obvious plea for everyone to just get along. The appeal of the song, though, is surely the man's distinctive voice, as well as the funky rhythm. Next up comes a smooth-as-hell love song in "Love's Divine," and you'll probably recognize this one from radio play. Even I did! It's not a bad bedroom tune. Next up, "Waiting for You," is another familiar, funky pop song that defies you to keep from tapping your feet of snapping your fingers. "My Vision" is largely forgettable, and "Don't Make Me Wait" kinda gets on your nerves with its escalating refrain. "Let Me Roll" practically shouts its desire to be funky and choked with soul. "Touch" is another bedroom ballad, this one both whispered and moaned. The rest of the disc tends to blur together in my mind, with the slow grooves of "Where There's Gold" and "Loneliest Star," followed by the somnambulant "Heavenly" and "Tinsel Town."
This DVD-A disc ends with a reprise, a sorta pointless replay of "Get It Together," as it's all of 15 seconds long.
Although Seal doesn't make the kind of music that floats my boat, I have to recognize him (and his producers) for trying out the hi-rez format. I wouldn't have picked Seal to take up the gauntlet, but here he is, in all his funky bedroom glory.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc's 5.1 surround mix is a subtle effort, mostly anchored at the front. However, the ambient sound of vocals and musical echo does add a nice sense of envelopment to the presentation. I tested both the DVD-A and DTS presentations and came away with no real feeling for differences. There's also a 2.0 mix that you'll probably never listen to, given the subtle effectiveness of the 5.1 track.