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Posted on: May 28th, 2018 8:53 am

Westlife Live in Wuhan 2012


“We know we can sing. That’s the easy part,” says Shane Filan, one quarter of the most successful boy band of the last decade. Twelve years, ten albums and 44 million sales into their career, Westlife came to a crossroads earlier this year. Did they stick to the winning formula that had produced 14 No.1’s (only three less than The Beatles), or tear themselves away from their comfort zone, shred the rule book and start again? The latter, as it happens. And in emphatic style.

The quartet’s eleventh offering, Gravity, sees the Irishmen sail into uncharted waters, wrestle an unprecedented level of creative control and most critically of all – start believing in themselves again. “It’s a really good album,” insists Nicky Byrne. “It’s one producer. It’s one sound. Maybe it’s taken us twelve years to get there. But it doesn’t matter. We’re here now.”

“It’s the kind of record we knew we could make and we just needed the right person to deliver it with us.” And that individual was legendary producer John Shanks. He steered Take That’s last two collections, was responsible for Bon Jovi’s recent reinvention and sculpted some of Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion and Sheryl Crow’s most enduring hits.

As sessions sprang into life this summer, first in London and then Los Angeles, it quickly became clear that the recording process would be radically different from anything the lads had ever done before.

Nicky recalls, “From day one John said, I’m not going to be ringing Shane up and saying I want him in on Wednesday lunchtime and Kian in on Friday morning. If I’m going to do this, we’re all going to be in the studio together. That was the first time anyone had ever said that to us. He made us feel like a real band again.” And injecting that sense of coherence, togetherness and freedom was critical for the group.

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