At 26, Ronald Cheng can be considered a late starter in a business where you usually peak at 22 and burn out at 25. But the wait has been worth it for the Hong Kong native in terms of building a good vocal base. Like many of his predecessors, Cheng - who does not consider himself a good looker - has decided to launch his career with a Mandarin album in Taiwan. The results have surprised many critics because sales have passed 200,000 copies, unheard of for a debut album. But this rhythm and blues set, produced by Zhao Chi-ping and Michael Au Ting-yuk, is a good example of how much better Canto-pop can sound with a little more effort on production. This is not a put-down of Cheng's vocals, which are highly impressive. He performs the title track with king warbler Jacky Cheung Hok-yau and at certain junctures it is almost impossible to tell one from the other. The number, an original composition by Andy Goldmark and Brock Walsh - whose names have been appearing on a few albums - is a lilting piece which gives both singers room to exploit the strength of their vocals. The second single, Heartfelt Sincerity, is excellent. Zhao has kept much of the focus on Cheng, settling for a simple arrangement comprising mainly finger snaps, guitar and a great string section. Between a Rock and a Hard Place is definitely not a difficult choice to make.