The musical rehabilitation of Craig David is complete. The Southampton –born producer never fully disappeared, but there was a definite dip in his songwriting form as he explored slower, more soulful forms of music and retreated from the limelight for a while.
Now, getting on for 20 years on from the Artful Dodger collaboration ‘Rewind’, he finds his music has come around again, going hand in hand with pop’s current penchant for a Spanish-influenced beat or two. To his credit he has shown immense durability to take this opportunity, not quite along the Rick Astley line of comebacks, but definitely a renaissance of some note.
A single phrase—“Bo selecta”—encapsulates both the peak and the nadir of the British singer Craig David’s career. It was the anthemic refrain of his breakout performance on the Artful Dodger’s 1999 garage classic “Rewind”—a song that launched David to instant stardom, followed by his 2000 debut, Born to Do It, released when he was just 19. (A decade later, it remained the fastest-selling debut album by a male solo artist in the UK.) David soon crossed over into the U.S.
For Craig David, seven albums in, it must feel like he’s trying to please everybody at once.
First off, there are the fans from way back when: UK garage old hands who spent their teenage years necking Bacardi Breezers at Twice As Nice but now have a mortgage and school catchment areas to worry about. Then, you’ve got the Radio 2 crowd, turned on to David initially by his duet with Sting (‘Rise & Fall’) or his album of Motown covers (‘Signed Sealed Delivered’), and want the kind of easy soul that doesn’t get made now that Lemar’s apparently vanished off the face of the earth.