The 1990s were some very good years for the British soul singer Seal. He rattled off a string of hits, and one-upped Val Kilmer by including his “Kiss from a Rose” on the Batman Forever soundtrack, largely outshining the Caped Crusader.
Now that Seal is nearing the autumn of his career, he did what most pop singers whose hit-making days are in the rearview generally do: release an album of standards. Aptly and un-ironically, titled Standards, the collection includes a version of “It Was a Very Good Year,” a classic song that he managed to turn into one of his own.
The song itself was written by Erwin Drake and is most closely associated with Frank Sinatra, though it was first recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1961. Seal’s signature raspy voice is in fine form and is an ideal fit for the song’s existential longing for days, and women, past. With his bluesy delivery, he sounds as though he’s been singing the tune for years. He’s at his best when he gets to verse about being 35. Given that Seal was in his thirties for most his heyday, when he sings “We’d ride in limousines their chauffeurs would drive,” one can’t help but think he’s giving a nod to his own past.
Seal fans shouldn’t see the Standards album as the end. After all, when Sinatra first recorded the song in 1965, he was a mere lad of 49, with plenty of good years and great songs in front of him.