Music Notes

Thu. December 20, 2007 12:00 AM

Seal / System

On his new album, System, Seal sings with the zeal of a man who is truly joyous. Clearly life with his supermodel wife Heidi Klum is going quite well.

For his first studio album in four years, Seal obviously wanted to shake things up a bit. But rather than recording an album of standards (thank God), Seal opted to venture out onto the dance floor where he, for the most part, succeeds brilliantly.

Working with producer Stuart Price, who helped craft Confessions on a Dance Floor for Madonna, Seal delivers what may well be his most commercial and accessible complete album to date. More importantly however, Seal brings integrity to dance music, elevating it to another level with his soulfully raspy voice and mellifluous interpretation.

Songs like the silky, electronic "Amazing," the seriously synth heavy "Loaded" and the dancefloor ready "Dumb" in the hands of a lesser singer might seem derivative and uninspired but bathed in Seal's signature vocals, they are wholly original and cutting edge.

Even a somewhat surprising duet with wife Heidi Klum on the track "Wedding Day" which could have been a disaster manages to avoid the pitfalls experienced on similar couple driven duets like Whitney Houston's unfortunate pairing with ex-husband Bobby Brown on the ill-fated "Something In Common" some years back.

On System, Seal manages to reinvent himself without sacrificing an ounce of the style and verve that made him a star in the first place. For that reason alone, this is a disc that is a an all too pleasant shock to the system.

(Buy the CD)

Party Groove: The White Party, Volume 8 / Warren Gluck & Wendy Hunt

From the piercing wail that launches "Love Is The Music," the opening volley on Party Groove: The White Party, Volume 8, you feel as though you have entered an old-time revival. Mixed by Warren Gluck and Wendy Hunt the latest White Party disc is nothing short of a feel-good celebration built on solidly danceable house grooves and outsize vocals. Hoorah!

If it's dull soullest dancing you seek, you won't find it on this disc. What you will find however is one of the best continuous dance mixes to come down the pike in quite some time. From the gospel house vibe of "Well Alright" to the hardcore tribal vibe of DJ Escape's "Lift Your Voice" to the pop driven hook of "You Don't Know," there's a little something for every dance music taste on Party Groove: The White Party, Volume 8.

Not to dis earlier volumes from this collection, but it occurs to me that after eight tries, the White Party finally got it right with this one.

(Buy the CD)

Levi Kreis / Bygones

Finally, just in time for the holidays, out soon to be icon Levi Kreis releases a collection of songs recorded for various labels, producers, and songwriters, prior to his breakthrough success.

Tinged with the emotion, soul and gospel driven grit that have become his hallmark, the nine songs that make up Kreis' Bygones are more than just collector's items. They are a reason to celebrate one of the most genuine male voices in pop/soul music today. The fact that he's gay and hot is only a bonus.