Seal Reconnects With 'IV'

Excerpted from the magazine for

Seal's first self-titled album, which was released in 1991, has sold 1.7 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. His second album, 1994's "Seal," sold 3.3 million. His third album, 1998's "Human Being," sold 489,000.

Is it any wonder his fourth album is called "Seal IV"?

"That was my idea actually," Seal says with a good-natured laugh. "After the first and second albums, any attempt to call it anything else seemed unnatural. That third album was a commercial catastrophe."

Naming the Sept. 9 Warner Bros. release after himself seems especially appropriate given the personal but universal themes of self-truth, love and brotherhood running through "Seal IV."

Depending on how you count it, the new set is actually his second since "Human Being." He recorded and trashed a complete album before making "Seal IV."

"The other album wasn't relevant. I listened to it and I didn't believe it," Seal says. The label liked the now-discarded effort but thought it lacked a crucial hit single. "So they felt I needed to come up with the song, but you see, that's not good enough for me. I took that as meaning that basically the album wasn't good enough. It had no bearing on the reality of who I was or what I felt I needed to communicate at that point in my life. I think I had become somewhat reclusive, living in my little castle in Los Angeles, without going back home."

So he hightailed it back to London and spent more time in his hometown than he had in the past decade, reacclimating himself with city life (he now lives in both countries). In the process, Seal reunited with producer Trevor Horn. "I decided to go back to England to try to recapture that original creative force," he says.

For Seal, that meant learning how to reconnect with his audience by making music that spoke honestly to him.

"My reason for making records is that I believe I have something to say. It's not the financial success. I have enough by way of material and financial," he says. "By some miracle, I have an ability to resonate with people. I am so fortunate that I can somehow go directly to the emotional state of people and offer some kind of hope or relief with my music."

Musically, the new album embraces modern technology, such as the drum programming on "Let Me Roll," but the emphasis is clearly on Seal's powerful, smooth, soulful voice.

The new album's first emphasis track, "Waiting for You," is No. 36 on Billboard's adult top 40 chart and No. 29 on the AC tally. The song is also being heard as part of a television campaign on NBC to introduce the network's fall lineup. (In the U.K., "Love's Divine" is the first single; in the rest of the world, it's "Get It Together.")

Seal's official Web site promises a slate of tour dates is forthcoming. At present, he has two confirmed U.S. performances scheduled -- Sept. 21 as part of Alice 97.3 San Francisco's Now & Zen Fest in Golden Gate Park along with Liz Phair, Duran Duran and Maroon5, and Nov. 16 at Rain in the Desert at the Palms in Las Vegas.

Additional reporting by Margo Whitmire.

Excerpted from the Sept. 20, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

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