It seems odd Gary Barlow feels the need to convince anyone of his pop credentials. After all, he was a member of the now-defunct Take That! who sold more than 10 million records and notched up an incredible eight British No 1 singles over five years. Nonetheless, this is his claim - and he intends to prove it with his first solo album, Open Road, which was released earlier this month on BMG/RCA. According to BMG executive Ray Yu Sai-hung, Barlow's enthusiasm is contagious. 'One of the exciting things about being involved with Barlow at this particular time is he is coming from being a member of one of the most successful teenage groups in the world,' Mr Yu said. Barlow wants to move to more mature ground as an artist, moving ahead as Take That!'s audience gets older too. Mr Yu explained: 'We think people have moved on. The new music reflects that. This is how you move out of pop without staying on the treadmill. 'He is an artist who knows it is his time, who knows there is a window to re-establish himself as a solo artist.' When Barlow embarked on his solo career in July last year, surely even his keen supporters from the Take That! days could not have foreseen such a blistering start. The single Forever Love shot straight to No 1 on the United Kingdom charts. He followed up with Love Won't Wait, which also went to the top. 'We have the confidence that Barlow can become a new pop sensation in Hong Kong,' Mr Yu said. Indeed, Love Won't Wait climbed to No 1 on Hong Kong's international charts in late May. The fans, however, have been forced to wait until now for new material but it seems the wait has been worthwhile. Barlow will be hoping Open Road is simply the first stop on a long and prosperous journey. He has teamed up with the strike-force of Walter Afanaiseff, Trevor Horn, David Foster and Diane Warren (she penned Toni Braxton's hit Un- Break My Heart). And the early signs are positive. Open Road displays a diversity of musical styles, ranging from acoustic ballads to up-tempo workouts. Love Won't Wait is a multi-instrumental track with a chorus that lifts the spirits and fills the listener with joy. Then there's So Help The Girl, a haunting ballad due for release as a single on July 7. There's certainly no doubting Barlow's pop credentials now.