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Sunday, 30 July, 2000, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
CD Review: Ronan Keating
Rona Keating
Keating releases Ronan - his first solo album
By the BBC's Nigel Packer

Impresario, TV presenter...and of course he sings a bit too.

But if recent months have seen Keating the pop star firmly upstaged by protegés Westlife, this return to the recording studio offers a timely reminder of who's the boss.

As his first solo outing, it represents something of a break with the past - although perhaps inevitably there are times when it reverts to the slick but less-than-thrilling territory of Boyzone.

Ronan Keating
Keating: Showing who's boss
For all the efforts of Stephen Gately, the bloke from FBi and - erm - the other two, there's only ever been one star of that particular show - and the dominant voice of the group is put to good use on a smoothly professional collection of pop songs and ballads.

The Bee Gees, Barry Gibb and rocker-lite Bryan Adams are among the roster of songwriters involved, and the greater variety of styles allows Ronan to stretch his larynx beyond the trademark warble and growl.

Maturity

On the bruised ballad The Way You Make Me Feel - co-written by Adams - he does a fair impression of the Canadian's dry-throated drawl, and he brings a touch of authentic emotion to the sweeping Heal Me.

Glimpses of Irish traditional music - first heard on debut solo single When You Say Nothing At All - appear throughout, while Ronan boasts a co-writing credit of his own on the lively Believe.

Elsewhere, the album is haunted by several sleep-inducing ballads, although Ronan's a likeable and unassuming enough figure to get away with the lapses into sentimentality.

Despite the occasional blip, the album succeeds in reinventing the 23-year-old as a mature singer, while taking care not to alienate any of his existing fans.

He may never rank among the world's most flamboyant pop stars, but this offers further proof that he's among the canniest.

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See also:

14 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Boyzone's Ronan defies death threat
02 Jun 99 | New Music Releases
CD Review: Boyzone
24 Jul 00 | Entertainment
'Blunder' costs Ronan top pop slot
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