Although Eric Benet's stunning new album, "Hurricane," draws much of its beauty from the pain of his split from Halle Berry, their divorce hasn't exactly been a boon to his career. Benet is more famous than ever, but his popularity has a sideshow quality: Even those unfamiliar with his songs are eager to step right up and see the man who cheated on the most beautiful woman in the world.

Perhaps sensing that his alleged sex addiction has stolen focus from his five-octave range, the neo-soul singer was vague when talking about his marriage during a sold-out show at the Birchmere on Monday night.

"Sometimes stuff happens in your life and you get a little separated from yourself -- I don't need to go into details," Benet said at one point, hoping to give insight into his musical inspiration without reminding the crowd too much of his personal travails.

If only it were that easy.

When the slinky, acoustic-guitar-driven ballad "Where Does the Love Go" began with Benet singing, "We could write the story of how we fell apart, but your truth and mine ain't the same," one couldn't help thinking that In Touch magazine has only scratched the surface of the Benet-Berry breakup.

On "The Last Time," the shimmering vocals and instrumentals recalled the old standards of Nat King Cole, but lyrics about a former love who "felt so close" but was "without romance" perhaps initiated new gossip.

Even "I Wanna Be Loved," a song about finding new romance, failed to exorcise the memory of Benet's ex. But it did allow him to dispel the notion that losing Halle Berry is a fate worse than death.

-- Sarah Godfrey

Halle Berry's ex, with a new album, "Hurricane,"

needs to focus on being Eric Benet.