Don’t call it a comeback – at least, not completely. Craig David never quite went away, but he certainly drifted a long way from the centre.
Previous album ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’ dropped all the way back in 2010, and that largely consisted of Motown covers. Since then, he’s retreated to his Miami pad, exercising the sort of #EatCleanTrainDirty routine that can turn a simple set of abs into a social media phenomenon.
But new album ‘Following My Intuition’ comes at the end of a remarkable Indian Summer for the Southampton lad and one-time UK garage wunderkind. Just as UKG has floated back into contention, Craig David has also nailed that mix of harmless nostalgia / future currency to jet-propel his career and finally escape the reach of A Certain TV Comedy Show.
The album certainly starts at a furious pace. ‘Ain’t Giving Up’ is a superb opener, the neat production boasting a slight tropical vibe, while Sigala’s powerhouse production results in a piano house breakdown moving into slick arena-filling EDM. Top 10 hit ‘When The Bassline Drops’ pushes the UK garage sound, with Big Narstie’s larger-than-life contribution bringing the BDL manifesto to the forefront.
Which isn’t to suggest that ‘Following My Intuition’ is simply banger-after-banger. ‘Don’t Go’ is slick R&B, Craig David at his most smooth, before the production erupts into a soulful, breaks-laden chorus. ‘Couldn’t Be Mine’ meanwhile, positively reeks of Miami – from the low-slung bass to the snare cracks to Craig’s velvet tenor.
His first album in six years, ‘Following My Intuition’ isn’t afraid to look over its shoulder: ‘16’ pits UKG flow against Bieber style synth lines, while ‘One More Time’ is a neat conglomeration of some of Craig David’s classic rhymes.
Indeed, it’s these conglomerations that point towards the album’s inherent Achilles heel. There is the continual feeling that Craig David is simply covering too much ground, is eager to pour himself into as many styles as possible. It’s almost musical ADD at times – house leads to drum ‘n’ bass leads to pop leads to EDM leads to dancehall. Sure, it’s fun, but at points it is positively dizzying.
Equally, this unleashing of musical energy can lead to a certain lack of musical depth – an incredible surface, and wonderful force of personality, but little further to investigate.
That said, when ‘Following My Intuition’ clicks together it certainly marks the return of a genuine British pop talent, one capable of sluicing together underground and mainstream styles like few others. ‘Got It Good’ resurrects Craig David’s work with Kaytranada, and that thumping bass skews the singer’s approach just a little. It’s a joy to hear – firmly out-with his comfort zone, he rises to the occasion, the flow doubling back on itself to mesh UKG and hip-hop.
After a fallow spell Craig David remains ‘Born To Do It’ – and he certainly does it better than most.
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