These once-celebrated R&B stars have seen their commercial fortunes wane to varying degrees in recent years, so perhaps it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Seal and Macy Gray are both following the covers-album route, which has ensured safe passage to middle age for singers with less robust back catalogs than theirs. Seal’s Soul (2008) and Soul 2 (2011) are as straightforward as those titles suggest—think handsomely sung, lushly arranged renditions of such 1960s and ’70s gems as “A Change Is Gonna Come,” “Let’s Stay Together” and “If You Don’t Know Me by Now.” The singer rarely reveals any new wrinkles, but his voice remains in fine enough form that you probably won’t mind hearing him re-slip between the sheets.
Gray takes a much more idiosyncratic route on Covered, which she released earlier this year following the unfairly cool reception given 2010’s The Sellout. Her song choices alone demonstrate how little her eccentricities have softened since the days of “I Try” and “Sex-o-matic Venus Freak”: Who else would think to pair Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” with “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat? At the Beacon, expect to hear her apply her signature sad-Muppet vocals to some of those would-be standards, along with the hits that once transported her to the top of the charts.—Mikael Wood