Gareth Gates launches into his second album, the tellingly titled Go Your Own Way
, full throttle, producing a monster double album that can only leave Will Young
wondering how the Pop Idol
second overtook him so quickly. It's clear from the outset that Gates is moving (or being moved) into a new, mature direction. Lead single "Sunshine" is a slick MOR soul cut and exactly the kind of song that Simply Red
's Mick Hucknall must wish he could still write. "Groove with Me" continues in this way, bringing in a not unnoticeable George Michael vibe. "Let me show ya...I want to know ya", he whispers. Later, "All Cried Out" slows things down slightly and introduces the mandatory string section, but it still throbs with an infectious, unusual beat sitting high in the mix. It's another calculated effort to be different, but it works. However, "Enough of Me" is such an obvious Justin Timberlake wannabe it will make even the most devoted of fans cringe, their pain increasing as it descends into a poor 1991-era Michael Jackson pastiche.
There are no poorly conceived covers here (aside from "Spirit in the Sky", but who would leave that off?). Much of this is funky, high-octane pop music, some of which Gates has contributed to himself. The usual bag of slush ballads are tucked away onto disc two ("Day"), which is crammed with heartbeats, heartbreaks, believing, disbelieving, beauty, pain, tears and goodbyes ad nauseum and are best left for those for whom they're intended (his original fanbase). Gates's benign overlords are hedging their bets, producing an album for everyone--hence the quantity of tracks. Far from being too far-reaching or diverse, it hits the spot too many times to dismiss. Make no mistake, Gareth Gates is here to stay and that might not be such a bad thing. --Cortman Virtue
2CD BMG, 82876 55745 2, 2003 DBL 19 Track