This new solo album from the Take That singer is filled with plenty of surprises as he takes his music in a different direction.

When you think of the type of music that you associate Gary Barlow with, it tends to be heartfelt ballads and gentle melodies – which is why it is delightful to see him take bolder and more outgoing approach to this latest album.

Starting with the lively and unexpected ‘Who’s Driving This Thing?’, the album has a wonderful vibrant and uplifting energy to it that keeps going right to the very end.

There is a richness and diverse sound that while maintaining a pop style, there are also elements of big band and latin that always keep the album interesting. This is really evident on songs such as ‘Incredible’ which is a real stand out track with its catchy style that is playful and fun to listen to. In contrast to this ‘Elita’, featuring Michael Buble and Sebastián Yatra is sharp and has a strong latin sound to it that really catches the listener unawares.

On top of all of this, Barlow has hired a huge number of people to make the album have an almost carnival and party-like atmosphere that will lift up your mood. This can really be heard on ‘The Big Bass Drum’ on which the musicians accompanying the singer seem to take centre stage, delivering a pleasing performance that is really spirited.

But of course, there are still moments of simplicity and softness as heard on ‘This is My Time’ that highlights the strength of the singer’s songwriting abilities which have been really honed over the years, while ‘Oh What a Day’ has a gentle lilting quality about it that is pleasing to listen to.

There are also plenty of special guests joining in as well, with ‘Enough is Enough’ featuring Beverley Knight providing some lovely harmonies and the jazz inspired and playful ‘The Kind of Friend I Need’ with James Corden being another highlight track.

Overall, Music Played By Humans is a really unexpected and enjoyable album that shows Gary Barlow taking a pleasing new direction for his solo music.

By Emma Clarendon

Music Played by Humans is available to buy and download now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐