audiotrack Human Being

reviewed by Jill Hill

Published in Issue No. 22 ~ March, 1999

Weird sums up the liner notes on this CD. I have 20/20 vision, but I can’t read the three-point script. I am unsure if the words are lyrics, ramblings, prayers, curses, e-mail, fan letters or a combination of these things. Actually, I am quite sure they are not lyrics in the traditional sense, maybe springboards for songs, but not actual lyrics.

According to interviews, Seal feels that it is better if the listener makes what he or she wants from the song and is not influenced by the actual lyrics. I sort of like printed lyrics, but Seal’s approach makes a certain out-of-kilter sense for his third album. More a danceable (slow dancing) rumination on love, loss, and betrayal, Human Being works as a whole rather than as a collection of single tracks.

The second track “State of Grace,” opens with a haunting melody. The lines: “I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait to touch you like a baby,” conveys a quaint measure of romantic tenderness.

Seal’s confidence in his voice carries throughout Human Being. It is his voice that moves the listener through the song, not a lyrical hook or a guitar rift. His voice as it dips low, stretches out a note, then rises to bring a forth a few words. The words mingle with the music and the nuances of his voice to produce the experience of depth that may in fact not be there. This is especially true on “Just Like You Said,” a song of love being lost. He manages to sound conversational in his confession of a failing love affair without revealing anything to the listener but a few phrases: “Yesterday it hit me and it felt like you were slipping away. Say if you can it’s okay.”

Seal possesses an intimate voice that coldly seduces the listener on the spooky track “Colour”: “Colour fades away, with the light descending on the day. Midnight sees your friend. Could you call his name? Would you know his name? I come here for your love.” The instruments seem distant, giving “Colour” an eerie, sad tone

The blend of ambiguous lyrics, the emotional depth of his vocal styling, and the soft mysterious melodies produce disquieting songs where love is always just out of reach. The guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums on Human Being are there to complement the true instrument – Seal’s voice.

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Jill Hill lives with some kids, some dogs, writes, and manages a restaurant where she tries out her new CD's. She listens to a variety of music, from Classical to Blues, but tries to stay away from most rap. In her words: "I am always on the look out for a new band or singer/songwriter that I will like. I like a CD that does not grow old and weary sounding, which mean I don't want buy a CD that can be found on the used CD sale table a month later. One of my favorite CD's is Neal Young's Everyone Knows this is Nowhere. My favorite writer is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and my favorite novel of his Of Love and Other Demons. X-Files is about the only TV I watch. I do not watch sitcoms and do not like music inspired by sitcoms. I'd rather listen to a sampled rap version of the Jetsons theme song."