Brian McFadden walked out on Irish pop phenomenon Westlife in search of a degree of musical credibility he felt the boy band had ceased to offer. Having reverted to the original spelling of his name (he'd become Bryan to more easily sign autographs), McFadden achieved his aim with an impressive string of solo singles, including the provocative "Irish Son" and "Almost Here," a duet with girlfriend Delta Goodrem. Yet McFadden had set his sights higher than mere pop hits. Set in Stone, the first release on the singer's own BMF record label, seeks to create a more diverse palette. Dispensing with the smoky, Bryan Adams-like yowl that populated his early material, Set in Stone is a cleaner and more polished affair. Lead single "Like Only a Woman Can" further showcases McFadden's knack for an infectious melody. It's a touching ode to the woman in his life, as he sings: "she's kind of perfect/she's everything I'm not." Both "Like Only a Woman Can" and opener "Twisted" hint at the singer's burgeoning interest in country music, while "Jones" recalls the chirpy, hip-hop-infused power pop of Jason Mraz. At the opposing end of the spectrum, "Get Away" and "Zoomer" aim for angst-ridden hard rock, but character-devoid instrumentation and excessively layered vocals ensure that any life these tracks take on is merely coincidental. Set in Stone will undoubtedly satisfy the radio pop quota, but the bulk of the album is as throwaway as anything in Westlife's considerable non-single output.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Donnelly