New Gary Barlow album imminent

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Gary Barlow's recent performances have been woefully embarrassing. Attempts at faking sincerity, ruthlessness and laughter have made him look pretty shallow even by the dismal standards of most X Factor judges. Now the Take That star is attempting to revive the day job, by releasing a new solo album.

The demand for new Barlow material might be there, although it has been conspicuous by its reticence. It has been 14 years since Barlow's last effort, 12 Months, Eleven Days (still available in a charity shop bargain bin near you). It has been a tough decade and a half rebuilding the Barlow profile, but it seems to have been effective.

A Take That reunion rehabilitated Barlow as a viable entertainer while the X Factor gig has kept his face in the nation's living rooms every Saturday night, even if his attempts to be a tough judge occasionally tip over into gratuitous cruelty.

Barlow took to Twitter to announce the new album: "After 14 long years I'm proud to announce my new solo album out on November 25th! I'm excited for u to hear it! More info to follow." So far, all we know is that he has been working with Rihanna's producers Stargate on some tracks.

Given he has had 14 years to issue the third solo album though, the timing could be a little more propitious. Barlow's effort will come out a week after Robbie Williams's latest album. There are bound to be comparisons and Barlow is bound to suffer from them.

Williams, ever the consummate eccentric showman, has chosen the provocative title Swings Both Ways for his album. It also features a duet with the semi-retired Lily Allen. Barlow has always been a somewhat more staid figure than Williams, not least with his shamelessly sycophantic tribute to the Queen in 2012. The Diamond Jubilee album Sing topped the charts last year.

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