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|1. "If It's In My Mind, It's On My Face"|
|3. Just Like Before|
|5. Wedding Day|
|8. The Right Life|
Some artists mellow as they age; Seal enters never-surrender mode and hits the dance floor. System gets at a new way of thinking for the king of the sexy British croon--he's a little less committed to nailing the vocals here and a lot more into manufacturing a mood. Overall, it's one infused with high spirits and an almost dreamy sense of possibility: "Rolling," the only song outside of a weird duet with wife Heidi Klum ("Wedding Day") to avoid elaborate but likable synths, stands its romantic ground without settling into ho-hum balladry, while "Loaded," "Dumb," and "The Right Life" bust out of the speakers determined to raise the profile of house music and electro beats. If he cribs a vial or two of vibe from Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor,, also produced by retro whiz-kid Stuart Price, it doesn't make Seal any less appealing. Even without hits like the super-smooth "Amazing," some guys manage to be amazing just by showing up. And so it is with Seal. Even his supermodel wife says so. --Tammy La Gorce
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Top Customer Reviews
He knows the value of a good producer; be it Adamski, whose "Killer" launched his career, or Trevor Horn, who sustained it.
Yet enlisting Stuart Price to produce his latest turns out to be more informed than inspired.
Produced under the booming, unsubtle house formulaic tutelage of Stuart Price (Madonna's "Confessions on a Dance Floor"), "System" is Seal rediscovering his former self.
System, Seal's first studio album in four years, finds the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter heading back to his Crazy dance-rock territory with a sweeping yet cohesive 11-song set.
All but two tracks toward the end would be right at home in a pulsing nightclub.
Maybe his supermodel wife Heidi Klum has injected a bit of catwalk attitude in Seal's return to his roots: System is much more happy-go-lucky than complex, dramatic tunes such as "Kiss From A Rose" and "Love's Divine".
If you loved "Crazy" and "Kiss From A Rose" then "The Right Life" or "Amazing" will strike the same chord, but as distinctive as the big man's voice may be, System does nothing but continue to plod on in a familiar setting
The autobiographical tenderness of "Wedding Day" is oddly affecting, though.
Canny soul that he is, Seal's come up with a devotional song to a bride, that's doubtless destined to become a matrimonial favourite.
The anthemic "If It's In My Mind, It's On My Face" allows Seal to belt out lines like 'And if I could fly, I'd spread my wings', his voice gleefully saturated with reverb.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, for me, Seal has always been consistent. Sure, there are songs on each of his discs that I could probably program out, but overall, his past four discs have been very consistent. Unlike others, in 1998, I bought "Human Beings", but it took me a long time to like it. Would I consider it his best work? No. His most artistic? Maybe.
I knew Stuart Price was the same guy who did Madonna's "Confessions On A Dancefloor" (which was average for Madonna in my opinion). So, I listened to "System" many times before sitting down to write my review here. I agree that Stuart Price's production detracts from what Trevor Horn was able to enhance. Seal's lyrics are the same though. I don't feel he has nothing to say. The lyrics are more uplifting (marriage and child can do that to some men) and the music goes with that newfound sense of happiness. Still, "If It's In My Mind, It's On My Face" has that old Seal insight in which he talks about hanging in there. Wasn't that also what "Crazy" and "Killer" were about too? "Amazing" is good in both versions, and also is a song about affirmation.
The sound of "System" is dancefloor friendly, but it differs in one significant way from his debut--variety. His debut alternated between club tracks and acoustic numbers and a mixture of both. "System" is almost purely electronic, though there is strong acoustic guitar on "Dumb" and he slows down for "Wedding Day", a target for jokes since he chose to duet with his wife Heidi Klum of "Project Runway". He also slows down for "Rolling" which is probably his most "Human Beings" era sounding.
To me, "System" is another consistent chapter in Seal's career whether fans like the disc or not. Some say with "Human Beings" he didn't care what the mainstream wanted, but "System" is the same thing. He made this music without caring what his fans wanted. It sounds like he was feeling good and wanted to get that onto record right now. Maybe his next album won't feel as happy, but ten years from now fans might want to come back to "System" and revisit a positive time in Seal's career. Every artist goes back to the beginning from time to time before moving onto their next phase. "System" is a clean, short dance album with many of the same hallmarks of Seal's previous works such as great vocals, strong lyrics and memorable songs. "Amazing", "Just Like Before", "The Right Life", "Rolling" and "If It's In My Mind, It's On My Face" are all solid, memorable tracks. The rest are good, but not great. Four stars, just like "Seal IV".
Then there was a period of searching for a direction, "Human Being" and "Seal IV": both albums with several commendable songs but neither with the intense thought and musical follow-through of Seal's first two.
And now there is "System." From the very first sighs of "If it's in my mind, it's on my face," it is apparent that Seal is up to something different. His trademark voice, always perfectly in pitch, always big, always bold and masculine: "The time is now!..if I could fly I'd spread my wings and free you from these foolish things..." The arrangement is voluptuous with Bass and Strings and the beat dares you not to move out of your chair, whether that chair is in your dining room or in your car....and dance.
The signature song of "System" comes next and that is "Amazing" and indeed it is. In fact there are two versions of this song on this CD, one a remix by "The Thin White Duke" (Bowie maybe?) and there are two others that I know of: one by Kaskade and the other by Bill Hamel available elsewhere.
"Just Like Before," "The Right Life," "Loaded": all primo Seal...thoughtful, rough, truthful, one stronger than the former but all meshed together by the committed vocalizing by one of our premier singers.
"System" is in fact all about fun, about dancing, about Joy and mostly about shrugging off the BS of Life and moving your booty. Seal is obviously happy and wants to spread it around...and we're more than happy to accept his beneficence.
The good news is that "System" is a solid album, filled with strong singing and upbeat lyrical themes. The biggest change musically is in producers; Trevor Horn's immaculate and grandiose production is exchanged for Stuart Price's more club savvy mixes. Seeing as he brought Madonna back for her Confessions on a Dance Floor, it makes sense for Seal to aim back to his "Killer" roots. You can tell the target just by the cover portrait, where Seal stares out at us via a fractured reflection in a mirror ball. With anthems in the waiting "If It's In My Mind It's On My Face," "System" and "Dumb" just begging to get clubbed out, Price understands his role in much the way Horn was a perfect fit for the prior albums.
It isn't just Price that knows his place; so does Seal's bride. Domestic joy informs a lot of these songs, like the great "Amazing" and the curiosity of the couple's duet "Wedding Day." While Heidi is not up to the level of Joni Mitchell (""If I Could," from the second album), she obviously relishes her role as muse. Seal is also maturing gracefully, his voice gaining a husky depth - like on "Immaculate" here - as the years pass. He has always been one of the best soul singers the 90's produced, and that he has managed to outlast many of his peers (think Terrence Trent D'Arby or Roland Gift) has as much to do with his indomitable spirit as much as his persistence/consistence of vision. That Seal can take his time to perfect his albums to where they qualitatively satisfy him (only 5 studio albums in 17 years) makes "System" all that more worth the wait.
With all of that said, I have to say this cd leaves me wondering what happened to the moody overtones....the intrigue and the mystery. It made me want to skip through sunflower prairies with a basket full of flower peddals........... Ok.....its not that bad but it sure doesn't give me goose bumps like all the prvious recordings.
Ok.... I will come down from my soapbox and let someone else have the floor. Please don't get me wrong, I am still a huge Seal fan but I am just a little disapointed with this one. SORRY....
For example, Great Songs worthy of my high standard for Seal:
1. It's in my Mind, It's on My Face
3. Amazing (Thin White Duke Remix)
The rest of the album is good as well, Immaculate, Just Like Before and The Right Life are very good songs and Wedding Day is not as bad as some are saying. Love the chorus. Can't the guy write one song for the love of his life? Jeez!
Just my 2 cents