Seal has sold more than 20 million records worldwide and is still best known for international pop hits like “Crazy” and “Kiss from a Rose,” but in recent years he’s found continued success by broadening his audience with cover albums featuring soul and R&B classics and favorite standards. Now when the 56-year-old Brit goes on tour, he likes to mix those covers among his own hits, creating a warm and energetic set with something for everyone. That show is coming to the intimate and recently renovated Pearl Theater at the Palms on July 19.
What can we expect from your Las Vegas show?
My show is pretty eclectic in any place I get to perform. People come to hear great songs and I’m lucky they want to hear me sing them. But my show stays eclectic because I’m a singer and songwriter first and foremost, and if you’re a singer, you sing. You don’t limit yourself to any one particular genre.
So many fans love your work on the Soul and Standards albums. Is it difficult to curate which classic songs you want to cover?
No, because they’re all great. By definition of being called standards, they have withstood the test of time. If I’m having difficulty with one of those songs, it’s not the song, it’s me.
Do you have any favorites among those favorites?
“It Was a Very Good Year” has been a favorite. “Smile” was a favorite. Again, they’re all great. Even the ones I wasn’t necessarily so keen on at first, when I looked further into them I realized what great songs they are. I just have a lot of respect for that genre and it goes back to the fact that the song and the voice are paramount and everything else comes and goes and changes. The song is everything to me. At one point, everyone had a song that changed the way you look at the world, and it’s the same with me.
It’s been almost 30 years now since the release of the original version of “Killer,” your breakthrough single. What’s it like to perform that song now?
Oh, it’s great. I still enjoy it. I love it, in fact. It’s great to sing all those songs from (that time) and I suppose if they were more genre-specific it would probably be more of a different experience singing them. The stuff I was singing about then still stands true today. Even though “Killer” was known as a dance-club hit, the reason it became successful and I was able to launch a career on the back of it is that it was a song first. “So you want to be free, to live your life the way you want to be.” That’s a sentiment that still stands true. It just happened to be kind of dressed as a club hit.
When you sing a song like that or “Crazy,” do you feel connected to the original spirit behind it, or has it taken on a different meaning?
I always felt my songs were less about the specifics of a particular time or what was happening on an exterior level, and more conversational. Really a song like “Crazy” struck a chord because people felt I was talking to them. It’s also the genius of Trevor Horn. He would produce the songs in a way that they were timeless and would never fall into the trap of making the beat or the genre first and the song second. He instilled that ethic in me: The song always comes first, the vocals, those are the important things.