RE-EE-WIND. When Craig David first arrived as a solo artist in a blur of facial topiary with ‘Born To Do It’ the pop establishment quaked. A two-step Sisqo directed by Mike Leigh, he was an apprentice loverman on a tight budget. The charts crumbled at his libidinous assault. Craig could make chatting up strangers in a subway in Southampton sound sexy.
Elton demanded he be knighted for his achievements (or something). Bono took to crooning the chorus of ‘Walking Away’ during live versions of ‘One’. J-Lo trumped them both by claiming ‘Born To Do It’ as the soundtrack to her honeymoon.
Two years on and with a million albums sold in the U.S Craig, it seems, is now half-American, half-hologram. Smart move: in a country pumping out phone-line fantasies and flesh-packed TV channels, there’s always room for one more fantasy soul man on the block.
‘Slicker Than Your Average’ shows no mercy. Waging war on all fronts, Craig is clearly in dogged pursuit of everyone from Usher to Nelly to N’Sync. No one is safe. Even Will Smith must be getting twitchy.
Clumsy but catchy cyber-funk single ‘What’s Your Flava?’ we know about, but elsewhere Craig supplies a platinum sheen to party R&B (‘Hands In The Air’) a dash of latino funk (‘Spanish’) and, inevitably, slow-dance soul (‘Personal’). Uber-producers Marshall and Trell (aka remix-dons The Ignorants) apply a sheen oxyacetalene couldn’t shift. Funk, soul, hip-hop and straight pop fans will all be lured in by his oily hypnosis. On ‘Rise & Fall’ he even manages a plaintive duet with Sting about the pitfalls of stardom without laughing.
The naivety may have got lost in the mix, but with countless pop idols -most hilariously, Ronan- failing miserably to crack America, Craig David has done what he had to. Having already redefined garage last time around, he’s conjured up an album equal parts R Kelly, Ali G and Terence Trent D’ Arby, which will only send him further into the stratosphere. Those idle boasts of his time with the Artful Dodger have clearly all come true.
Right now, Craig David really is ‘all over your boink’.