Album Review: Craig David, The Time Is Now

the time is now

Craig David

The Time Is Now (released January 26, 2018)

Some of y’all probably saw the name Craig David on this post and said to yourselves “I haven’t heard from him since 2001!”

Y’all gotta keep up. Craig never stopped grinding.

Most of Craig’s stateside success occurred at the turn of the century – tracks like “7 Days” and “Fill Me In” are in the conversation for classics of that era. And while his U.S. presence has been more elusive in recent years, he’s consistently cranked out hits for nearly two decades, including last year’s Following my Intuition LP, which hit No. 1 and went gold in the UK.

The title of his last project is pretty prophetic. With the current U.S. music scene being heavily influenced by UK acts – from Daley’s soul to Sam Smith’s sultry pop to the hip-hop grime scene  – there’s no better time to remind American fans to led the way.

So, for Craig David, The Time Is Now, an album that is a grand showcase for his musical diversity. It’s an ambitious, sweeping project that’s not without its rough patches.

But let’s first talk about what works, and the name that immediately comes to mind is Kaytranada. Craig and Kaytranada have been quietly building chemistry over the years, and “Live in the Moment” is probably their best collabo to date. It’s a feel-good track with boundless energy, yet retains a soulfulness that’s reminiscent of early Musiq Soulchild. It’s by far the album’s biggest standout.

“Talk to Me” (and its remix featuring Ella Mai) follow in that vein and really makes me wish that Craig featured more uptempo R&B on this project. But those tracks are the anomalies – The Time Is Now hops from genre to genre in the span of minutes to mixed results.

Tracks like first single “Heartline” and “Brand New” embrace that tropical house sound that is practically unavoidable in mainstream music. Yeah, that genre has been beaten to death already, but Craig makes his contributions memorable by lacing his delivery with hints of soulfulness. The tracks don’t sound as hollow and canned as the stuff they’re force-feeding you on radio. “I Know You,” featuring British band Bastille is EDM all the way – which usually triggers projectile vomiting from your boy – but the electro-trap blend works way better than you’d expect. It’s a catchy, well-produced earworm.

On the other end of the spectrum, though “Going On” and “Love Will Come Around” are noteworthy due to their lighthearted energy, they are a little too close to the sound Drake has used to oversaturate our eardrums for a half decade. It’s also weird hearing Craig go 100% trap on “For the Gram” – the production is fine but the distorted vocals just seem unnecessary.

And don’t forget the dance tracks – “Focus” and “Reload” are probably way more fun if you’re squished in a musty club with strobe lights and skinny girls with glow-in-the-dark Hula hoops. But in the context of the album, they come off kinda repetitive.

R&B fans going into The Time Is Now looking for more tracks like “Live in the Moment” will be slightly disappointed in the album’s wide spectrum of genres. But most of what’s here works, especially when Craig is able to put his own stamp on well-worn mainstream sounds. If he had just honed in on just a couple of sounds and kept his radius a bit tighter, he would have seen greater success.

Still, The Time Is Now serves as a wake-up call to U.S. fans – Craig is back like he never left.

Best tracks: “Live in the Moment,” “Talk to Me,” “Brand New”

3.5 stars out of 5


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