Best known in the States for his lead role in Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood and his villainous turn in Desperate Housewives, John Barrowman first came to prominence in the U.K. with his performances in hit West End musicals The Phantom of The Opera, Miss Saigon and his Olivier Award-winning role in The Fix. After releasing several musical theater-based albums, he continues his diversion into more pop territory with Music Music Music, the follow-up to his first bid at chart success, Another Side. Named after his talent show judging habit of repeating everything three times, the 13-track collection is a combination of stage show classics (Chess' "I Know Him so Well," featured here in a solo version and duet with Any Dream Will Do finalist Daniel Boys), cover versions of '80s pop songs (Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting"), and for the first time in his career, a brand new composition. Penned by none other than Gary Barlow, "What About Us," an anthemic slice of radio-friendly MOR pop, is a convincing attempt at a contemporary sound which suggests that Barrowman could find an audience outside his West End/Broadway background. It's a shame then, that apart from a restrained rendition of Keith Urban's "You'll Think of Me," the rest of Music Music Music descends into overblown theatrics with the likes of Joni Mitchell's tender, heartfelt ballad "Both Sides Now" and Dusty Springfield's lounge-pop standard "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" performed with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. With Titanic and Avatar soundtrack producer Simon Franglen and Kylie Minogue collaborator Graham Stack at the helm, it's surprising that the likes of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" and Andy Williams' "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" sound like they've been recorded by an average wedding band, their obtrusive instrumentation so brash they even manage to swamp Barrowman's foghorn vocals. Arguably more high-profile than ever, Music Music Music feels like a missed opportunity to showcase another side to Barrowman's talents, its early promise counteracted by a range of predictable and safe karaoke numbers which may delight his musical fan base, but will deter any new audience he was hoping to reel in.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien