In an interview with Fader, whilst describing what fans can expect from the album, Craig David said; “I’m very much back to my basics. I wanted to do a through-and-through garage record”. He called it, “straight up garage tunes”. Whilst there is truth to this, problems arise on ‘Following My Intuition’ when he deviates from this formula. He finds himself in odd, unfamiliar and often confusing territory.
Opening track ‘Ain’t Giving Up’ is one example. It’s a summery Ibiza club tune. Whilst this feel good anthem will certainly have its fans, it seems disingenuous. He made these statements about producing an authentic garage album then strayed from the path at the first possible avenue.
‘When The Bassline Drops’ brings David back on track. His impeccable flow combines with his famous ability to switch between singing and rapping, creating an exciting single. Big Narstie adds personality and humour alongside the welcome return of garage beats. David’s initial comments begin to make more sense.
These moments come and go throughout the album. ‘What If’ is a classic Craig David track. It gets to the crux of what made him so loved. Beautiful broken chords and syncopated beats mix with melancholy lyrics lamenting his mistakes and regrets. It could easily be lifted straight from his debut release.
‘Here With Me’ is another instance of his famous brand of garage, and it shows you that he can still get it done. ‘Got It Good’ is another standout track. Whilst it isn’t typical Craig David; Kayranada’s production meshes perfectly with his soothing vocals to create one of the pop tracks of the year. ‘Couldn’t Be Mine’ also has a hip hop vibe, complete with a funny Drake reference. It’s a new direction for him and despite the somewhat controversial subject matter, it is laid back and welcoming.
At 18 songs, the deluxe edition does take some patience and these highlights go some way to masking the more uncomfortable moments. ‘Louder Than Words’ and ‘Like A Fan’ see David attempting uncharacteristic Beyonce-style anthems. ‘Don’t Go’ is a drum and bass track without any punch, and ‘Warm It Up’ feels like an uncomfortable Sean Paul impression.
Craig David is a feel-good artist who brought garage to the mainstream. He strikes a chord with so many people and has done nothing to detract from this or tarnish his legacy. However, he could have avoided some of the modern pop formulas to maintain a more traditional garage influence to his sound. In any case he was never one of the pioneers of authentic underground garage music to begin with. That’s not to say there are no classic Craig David moments in the album, because they are everywhere. Furthermore he’s successfully ventured into new territory. However, he is clearly trying to draw in a new generation too. He throws everything at the board hoping that some of it will stick. Much of it does, some of it misses the mark.
Following My Intuition is out now via Insanity Records and Sony Music