Seal's 'Standards' is a dialogue with listeners

BEVERLY HILLS, California (AP) — Seal is in crisis mode. The Grammy-winning singer says he's deeply concerned about anti-social social media and the emotionless conversations enabled by technology.

He stepped back recently to observe how he and his children used social media and messaging apps — and didn't like what he saw.

"I've been going through my own sort of crisis if you like, of late — trying to make sense of it all," he said. "There's a lot of contact, a lot of traffic, but very little dialogue. So people are texting each other, but actually having zero dialogue at all, or very little. They're not saying anything. Because they're not real conversations. ... Because there is no emotion, or very little. And if there is emotion, it's contrived emotion."

Among his responses: He doesn't shake hands — only hugs. He texts as little as possible, preferring FaceTime or other video apps when holding a phone conversation.

And he immersed himself in the "dialogue" of classic pop and jazz songs like "Autumn Leaves" and "Smile" for a new "Standards" album released this month.

"I feel that because so much emphasis is on storytelling and the ability of the great singers of these standards — the Sinatras, the Fitzgeralds, the Nat King Coles — and the ability of these great singers, these great voices, to carry this narrative, to tell the story — everything is focused on that. ... If that is not intact, everything else falls to pieces," Seal said. "It has to be dialogue. ... That kind of seems to be the theme with me at the moment -- both kind of personally and professionally."

His 10th studio album was recorded at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, with a band that included musicians who performed alongside Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. The 54-year-old British crooner has been more focused on storytelling in his own songwriting since delving into the classics songbook.

"It taught me relaxation, slowing down, and having to be more reflective and focused again on this thing of the narrative. Because that's really what resonates with people," he said.