Irish singer-songwriter and former Boyzone frontman Ronan Keating is joined by celebrity friends and revisits some of his biggest hits to date in his latest album,Twenty Twenty, writes Nick Benson.
It’s crazy to think that it has been 20 years since former Boyzone frontman Ronan Keating released his debut solo album.
The self-titled album shot to the top of the UK charts back in August 2000 and now, two decades later, Keating, one of the best-loved singers of our generation, is back with an album that encapsulates his many musical achievements since the millennium.
Entitled Twenty Twenty and released on Decca Records, Keating describes his new record as “a greatest hits of brand new music”.
Having released some of the defining pop songs of the past two decades, his first single, One Of A Kind, sees Keating duet with none other than Emeli Sandé. The heartfelt, embracing glory of this song is classic Keating.
“I guess I’ve been known for those first dance songs at weddings, and this has me written all over it,” he said. “It’s all about the night before the wedding, the day of the wedding and spending the rest of your life together.”
The track demanded a duet partner and for Keating there was only one choice.
“I was completely honoured when Emeli Sandé said she’d love to do it. I was just blown away by her vocal. She’s obviously got a brilliant voice, and she’s a lovely, warm person, so the personality she’s brought to the song is just incredible.”
Keating’s second single, Little Thing Called Love, is set to an upbeat guitar melody and showcases his irresistible vocals at their best. Keating recently shot a socially distanced music video for the track at his property, with picture frames dotted around the woods displaying his fans’ ‘little things called love’ – video and photo submissions of the things that make them smile and have helped them get through these uncertain times.
The video also features Keating’s three-year-old son Cooper painting a special artwork which, at the end, is revealed as an exclusively commissioned pop-art collage entitled Knight Nurse by renowned artist Lhouette. Keating recently auctioned the artwork to help raise funds for UNICEF’s work with children affected by the global pandemic.
With production assistance from his longstanding wingman Steve Lipson (Annie Lennox, The Rolling Stones, Simple Minds, Whitney Houston, Paul McCartney), Little Thing Called Love is one of many original songs taken from Keating’s new album.
For some of the new tracks, Keating has called in some celebrity friends. Country music superstar Shania Twain lends her vocals to Forever And Ever, Amen; the powerfully emotive The Big Goodbye – written in memory of Boyzone band mate Stephen Gately – features Keating’s long-time friend Robbie Williams; and Nina Nesbitt joins him on the heart-warming ballad The One.
Twenty Twenty also sees Keating revisit three of his biggest hits. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Alison Krauss stars on his most-loved hit, When You Say Nothing At All, with Ed Sheeran on guitar. The album also features brilliantly reworked versions ofLife is a Rollercoaster and Lovin’ Each Day.
Since the original break-up of Boyzone, one of the most successful British bands of the ‘90s, Keating has forged a soaraway solo career: two back-to-back number one singles straight out of the gate, 30 consecutive Top 10 singles, 10 studio albums, multiple tours, 20 million records sold on top of the 25 million sold with Boyzone.
In other areas, too, he’s happily stretched his wings: judging on both the X Factorand The Voice in Australia, acting for both television drama and film, a highly acclaimed stint on London’s West End and, now, bringing breakfast show entertainment to the nation with his morning radio show on Magic FM with Harriet Scott – accumulating the highest ratings ever in Magic Radio history.
Over the past 12 months Keating has been tirelessly working on an album that celebrates an incredible solo career spanning two decades. He wants to acknowledge that he certainly doesn’t take this for granted.
“There’s not a lot of artists that have been lucky enough to do 20 years and still be here,” he said.
There are even fewer who have matched a successful band career with a successful solo career.
“I’m very honoured to have had that, so I wanted to mark it with an album like this,” he added.
So this is Twenty Twenty – the album eagerly awaited by Keating’s fans, who have grown up with him over the past 20 years. This is the album of Keating’s adult life.
• Twenty Twenty by Ronan Keating is out now on Decca Records.