Formerly sequestered within uber boyband Westlife, McFadden split from their ranks in 2004, citing the pressures of fame and the desire to spend more time with his family. Which is fair enough I guess. So odd then that he should immediately launch a solo career with a debut single paean to how empty life is at the top ("Bullshit dinners and the free champagne, men in suits who think they know it all") and how much he'd rather be spending time with his family ("Picnics in the garden and the children they can play, the first day of the summer and I'll laze here all the day"). Well if this 'cake and eat it' whine is fishing for sympathy Bryan, then sorry. I'm fresh out. Because I'll be honest with you, if I hated my 'job' as much as you seem to here then I'd pack it in, especially if I was in the same 'don't need the money' situation as you're in.
But regardless, the song is here to say its piece and, after listening to it, I take some degree of comfort from the fact that 'Real To Me' isn't offered up as a wine soaked, piano led weepie. That would be too much egg for this particular pudding. But even so, that comfort is quickly soured by the AOR dirge that 'Real To Me' actually is, then soured further by McFadden's crack at trying on the mantle of the bastard lovechild of Michael Bolton and Jon Bon Jovi for size in singing it. Does it fit? Well in his own mind his throaty probably growl delivers the genuine despair (check out the clear water distance putting cover shot of the ungroomed 'real' him watching the (presumably) 'not real' clean cut Westlife 'him' on TV. In the dark) that constitutes the 'real' he's aiming for, but in mine 'Real To Me' reeks of the hand feeding biting of a boyband refugee looking for a 'manband' identity but finding the shoes too big for comfort; instead of striding out into the world manfully he instead trips over his own laces and falls headfirst down the ignominy staircase in an ungainly, clumsy clatter that, whether intentional or not, takes a mean spirited swipe at both Westlife and their fans. "Dying flowers in a dressing room, a dangerous time to let your head make up its own mind" - I couldn't agree more Bryan: regardless of what you're on about, I couldn't agree more. Now how about taking the kids on that picnic eh? The weather's lovely this time of year.