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Life after 'Rose' smells just as sweet

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November 20, 2007

Seal

System (Warner Bros.)
Let's get the obvious out of the way first. "Amazing," the first single from Seal's fifth studio album, is just that: an uplifting, memorable number about the power of redemption. What is more amazing is that the album's other tracks actually come close to the "Amazing" standard. More than a decade after his mega hit "Kiss From a Rose," the British soul singer may be a wealthy, Grammy-winning artist married to a frosty supermodel (Heidi Klum), but his dance-pop tunes are surprisingly fresh and emotionally meaty, without a hint of complacency. With deft mixing by producer Stuart Price (the force behind Madonna's "Confessions on a Dance Floor,") "Loaded," "The Right Life," and "System" would ignite any dance floor. The melancholy, stripped-down "Rolling," with its mixture of hope and resignation, showcases Seal's distinctive, husky-sweet vocals against plaintive guitar riffs. The chorus of "dum, da dum-dum" gets a witty double meaning in the angry "Dumb." And speaking of Klum, the "Project Runway" diva acquits herself without undue embarrassment in her breathy duet with her husband on the syrupy "Wedding Day." And take note: Of the two versions of "Amazing," the second version and last cut is far more powerful. [Stephanie Schorow]

ESSENTIAL "Amazing"

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