Re-e-wind… actually no, fuck that, we all know the story of Craig David now and there’s no point repeating it. What’s important to focus on is that the man is back – he’s already laid claim to one of the best songs of the year with his feature on the Kaytranada album (Got It Good, which also appears here), so there’s hope in the Walking Away / 7 Days fans inside us that this is the point that Craig David stops being a parody of himself and earns a royal homecoming.
Imagine our disappointment, then, when he mashes up Fill Me In with Bieber and Jack Ü‘s Where Are Ü Now on a track called 16. It feels like a total waste of space on an album that doesn’t need a throwback, and a man whose talent can go far beyond his earlier hits. Not only that, the update feels purely cosmetic: it’s a crowd-pleaser for the sake of being just that, rather than adding any worthwhile layer (no, the rap doesn’t count).
Another offence? Jeremy Kyle DNA-denial jam Couldn’t Be Mine, which updates “Craig David all over your BOINK” with “I know we BOINKED sometimes”. Or the fact that he enlists Sigala for Ain’t Giving Up or Blonde on Nothing Like This and succumbs to that same-old EDM-drop shit that every UK vocalist is happy to peddle these days. Come on, mate. Help us out here.
It’s only when we get to One More Time that the album really kicks into gear. This is the Craig David we fell in love with, a furious blend of UK two-step and soulful vocals that still feels fresh in this form. It gives way to the MNEK co-write Change My Love, which crystallises the bridge David seems to be making on this album: cheeky youth tearaway to international R&B type. When he gets it right, it’s a guise that certainly suits him more than even, say, an Usher these days.
And in one final flurry, David redeems himself completely. The combo of What If‘s immaculate throwback and slow-jam Like A Fan is enough to remind us that we mocked and ignored Craig David for far too long, that his talent isn’t something that ought to be ignored in the wet-lettuce world of male R&B – the lyrics may be all about scorned love or baby-making, but as a single bloke he does an alright job of it without veering into misogyny. Turns out this man following his intuition is no bad thing, but it truly pays off when both he and we agree to let him look forward and evolve rather than, well, re-e-wind.