Gary Barlow

Open Road

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Out of all the Take That members, Gary Barlow was tabbed to be a solo superstar because he not only had the looks, but the talent as well. All of Take That's best songs were written by Barlow, and they demonstrated that he shared Elton John's gift for the big, yet graceful hook. So, his solo debut Open Road should have established him among the front ranks of mainstream pop singers, but the album is fatally flawed because of this very conceit. In an attempt to guarantee Barlow the widest possible audience, Arista president Clive Davis decided to team the singer with a number of professional songwriters, resulting in a surprisingly bland album. When Barlow does get a chance to write -- as on "Forever Love," "My Commitment," and "Open Road" -- the record illustrates that he has the melodic skills and handsome charm to be a worldwide star, yet the album is undone by uncertainty and safe bets that lead Open Road to a dead end.

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