There’s something unreal about Seal. His instantly recognizable voice only gets stronger and more charismatic with age. On 7 he reunites with producer Trevor Horn, the architect of “Crazy” and “Kiss From a Rose.” Together they enjoy after-hours scenery on “Padded Cell,” “Monascow,” and “Life on a Dancefloor”—all outfitted with contemporary curves. That's well and good, but it’s ballads people expect and Seal delivers: “Half a Heart” and “The Big Love Has Died” are self-referential showstoppers, with Horn building an epic battleground for Seal’s emotional fight songs. “Love” wraps up past lessons learned to a spare track with trademark intensity. 7 shows that Seal exists on an elevated plain separating extraordinary balladeers from ordinary ones.

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