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Seal is still "Crazy" about making music
When Seal released his latest album, "7," last ??, he was ready for scrutiny.
His first set of new material in five years, following the 2011 covers set "Soul 2," "7" is his first release since he and wife Heidi Klum split up in 2012, after seven years of marriage and three children. Seal was braced for those searching for revelations in its 11 tracks, which he co-produced with longtime collaborator Trevor Horn. But he contends that even songs such as, oh, "The Big Love Has Died," do not necessarily make this his counterpart to Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks," Ryan Adams' "Heartbreaker" or any other famous breakup albums.
"It's a common misperception that every album you as an artist writes, if it's personal then it's autobiographical. And that's not the case," Seal, 52, says by phone from Los Angeles. "I try to write in a way that people can connect with, so I would say probably 40 percent of this album is autobiographical; the rest is biographical.
"For example, Trevor Horn...was going through a lot of stuff at that time, the passing of his wife who was also my mentor. And so I wrote about those events as much as about events that were directly going on with me. So each record, or songs on the record, they're a combination of my own personal experiences."
Nevertheless, Seal -- who was born Olusegun Olumide Adeolo Samuel in London to a Nigerian mother and Brazilian father -- acknowledges that there is a narrative arc to "7" that's reflected in the careful sequencing of the songs.
"We think of it as like watching a good movie or reading a good book," Seal explains. "You have a good intro, a good middle, a good end. All of that is important to get the listener to invest in it at the beginning and want to follow it through to the end."
"7," meanwhile, may also be the end of Seal's recording career as we know it -- but not the end of making music. Now at the end of his contract with Warner Bros. Records, he announces that he "won't be signing with another major (label)" and that he also "won't be making albums in the same way."
"I will be releasing songs," Seal says. "I think there's an immediacy and a freedom which comes with that, to release music as and when I see fit. The playing field is different these days. The concept of going into a studio for however long and making a concept album, so to speak, I don't know if that's relevant these days or if indeed that is practical to do. It's certainly not so effective. It's not something I really want to do."
If all goes as planned, it won't be long before new music from Seal starts to surface "There are a ton of songs, absolutely," he says. "I have a ton of ideas, and some pretty interesting collaborative opportunities.
"If anything I think the music becomes more exciting because it's fresher. There's a kind of refreshing rawness about it. It doesn't get overcooked, overbaked and is not necessarily refined or finished as it would be when an album is released. And there's something to be said for that."
The move comes at an auspicious time for Seal; It's 25 years since the release of his self-titled debut, a platinum set that launched the hit "Crazy." Seal's not one for nostalgia or sentimentality, but the mark is not lost on him as he tours the globe this year.
"One thing that's really changed is I think I love it more now than I did back then," he says. "I loved it quite a lot then, but it always seemed to be a labor of love back then and now it's a privilege to do the things I love.
"But at the same time I don't take it as seriously as I used to take it, and that's probably why I enjoy it more."
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31.
Meadow Brook Music Theatre on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills.
Tickets are $35-$99.50 pavilion, $29.50 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
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