It’s been a fair while since Craig David last released an album; 6 years to be exact. In 2010 Craig released Signed Sealed Delivered through Universal Motown. The album primarily featured covers that spun Motown tracks. So, we have to look even further back for a truly original Craig David LP release.
It’s been 9 years since the gold-certified Trust Me released in the UK and Craig David fans have missed the garage pioneer.
In November last year, Craig and Big Narstie released popular single “When The Bassline Drops” to critical acclaim. The track went down really well and sparked a string of successful single releases and feature appearances, as well as festival slots.
Cam from the GRM Writer team was tasked with reviewing the album as he listened to it for the first time:
“Ain’t Giving Up” (ft. Sigala)
The album starts with a tropical, Caribbean sounding melody sitting behind Craig’s fun, summery vocals. Sigala have once again come through with a monster beat, with a dope sub-line coming through on Craig’s second verse. The piano chords glittered throughout this track really add a heartfelt, organic vibe to the song.
“When The Bassline Drops” (Feat. Big Narstie)
I remember this song dropping and getting gassed whenever it played on the radio, which was quite often. It still gets its fair share of airplay almost a year on from its first release. Craig’s fast-paced vocals are reminiscent of an old-school garage sound, a feeling that’s captured in both of the first two tracks, with the subby drop acting as a prelude to Big Narstie’s killer verse. “The sound of the streets coming through your aerial, Big Narstie all over your Nyaaaah” is such a dope ending to the verse. The verse is littered with trademark Craig David adlibs – love it.
This one is straight away feeling more tender. Still, though, Craig is flowing like an MC on some of these verses. “You’ll never know what you’ve got until it’s gone” rings out towards the end of Craig’s verse. The chorus is hella catchy and the drop is anthemic. This song is a triumph, for sure. I get the impression that this song marks the start of the album’s linear love-story. “Don’t go now, baby no don’t go” is the hookline and it’s infectious. The panning on the vocals across the drop is really cool actually – a subtle addition to the track but really ear-catching.
Right, I remember Craig performing this one at the Rated Awards thinking he was doing a cover. But, it turns out he’s completely flipped this Justin Bieber beat. He’s telling a teenage love story excellently in his verses, a sort of Romeo and Juliet theme. This drop is all-too-familiar but Craig’s melody is refreshing – wait, he’s just started spitting, yeah, I remember this. It’s kinda gassed, I’m not gonna lie. The storytelling on this track is exceptional, the narrative doesn’t falter at any point either. The hook’s just come around for the second time and I’m already singing the lyrics in my head – it’s no secret that Craig’s got a knack for catchy toplines but this album is really impressing me as a showcase of his versatility and songwriting.
“Couldn’t Be Mine”
Okay, the drum break on this, in the pockets of the bassline, are nuts. So subtle but still so effective. This is a club-romance story. The hook vocals are super smooth, a lament about how this girl Craig’s met in the club couldn’t be his. Nice. Again, I have to compliment the storytelling on this track. It’s really strange, this wouldn’t be stray in the top 40, but the narratives on these tracks are a lot more detailed and attentive than most of the stuff sitting in the top 10.
“One More Time”
Oooh, this track’s a banger. It’s been playing on the airwaves recently. The beat’s frantic and fastpaced, just like Craig’s flow that almost goes down in a scale. There are strings on this hook – another sign of how Craig’s made this album into more than a reminscent garage record. The musicality is really impressive – the guitars scattered across the track are really nice, especially when Craig starts spitting. Damn, this middle is incredibly smooth – and that acoustic guitar transition as well, really impressive. It’s crazy how contrasting the verses are to the hooks on this project. The drops are just as subby as you want them to be but that doesn’t compromise anything else in the instrumental.
“Change My Love”
Just as I’m thinking about the contrasts in this project, the verse on this song is lead excellently by some acoustic guitars but as soon as the bass comes in you remember just who you’re listening to. The melodies on this track in particular are actually genius. “Nothing will ever change my love for you” is sung really interestingly by Craig and it is one of the standout melodies I’ve heard so far. Again, the middle on this track just flips the entire song, a more smooth section that builds up to another infectious, anthemic chorus that’s also littered with adlibs and runs that show off Craig’s vocal ability – as if that was ever in doubt.
“Nothing Like This” (ft. Blonde)
Interesting percussion on the beat. This reminds me more of old-school Craig David. Oh, but the build up to the drop is really cool. Now I remember this track. Who could forget the lyrics to the hook once they come in? Another single from the album that’s been all over the radio. “I aint felt nothing like this” is repeated over a drop meant for dancing to. I really like the line “This is more than just a feeling, this is more than just a crush” and the entire scheme that it leads to. Great songwriting all over this record.
“Got It Good” (Feat. KAYTRANADA)
Okay, if Kaytranada is on the beat we can expect a madness. Oh, s***! Already I’m hooked. Such a smooth bassline, the production on this is crazy. It’s quite dubby, actually. Oh and this vocal sample is nuts, too. This track is a real standout. “Don’t worry bout the past, throw it in the bag, cause I got it good” is the main hookline and it’s just as catchy as the hooks before it. Something about Craig’s melodies on this track really remind me of Justin Timberlake – which is something I’ve never really thought before. This album isn’t dissimilar from JT’s 20/20 Experience in terms of verse production and recording techniques. The drop into the track’s middle sees Craig compete with another vocal in my right ear – another example of the exceptional mixing on this project.
“All We Needed”
This is gonna be dope. Piano-led. Sombre melodies . “Something bout you makes me stronger.” This is gonna be filled with quotable lyrics. It’s is a lot slower than the other tracks – I wonder if it couldn’t have appeared a little sooner in the tracklist? Craig’s singing “Lay me down in the water, let me drown” is another dope lyric. Are these choir vocals I hear at the end of the second verse? Damn. For a ballad, this is really interesting, production wise. How many times do I have to say that during this review? I just love the beats on this record. It’s really nice to hear Craig singing so soulfully, it’s touching, actually. This song could prove to be timeless if enough people catch onto it. Congratulations to Craig and his songwriting team for this one, it’s amazing.
“Louder Than Words”
Oh, now this is new. Whistling? And guitars? Is this a Quentin Tarantino score? I can feel a drop coming – OH S***- this drum break is 10/10. Best beat on the project so far. Craig’s vocals seem a little more aggressive, very passionate. The premise of this song is “Actions speak louder than words” which fits the more aggressive flow of Craig’s vocals. The neat piano stabs in the verses are also a really nice touch, just like the trashy electric guitars on the hook. This one has pipped the Kaytranada track to the top of my list in terms of production. These guitars are insane – a great touch and very different to the rest of the stuff on this record. I’m really digging the tail-end of this album. Oh, and vocal cuts, too? This song is seriously something else – I wonder who produced it? Well played, Craig.
More guitars! Another old-school sounding track, for sure. More storytelling on the verses from Craig. It’s strange actually, he’s writing these verses like a rapper would, but they’re still so beautifully sung. This track is gonna hitting home with a lot of listeners – Craig’s main hookline is “I’m kicking myself thinking ‘What If?'” Yeah, I’m feeling this one. It’s really smooth.
“Like A Fan”
A pulsing beat leads into this one, almost like a heartbeat. I like the plucked stuff over the top of this. It’s like a 2008 Drake beat, which is great. “I’m feeling like a fan” is the premise of this song – from what I’ve caught, Craig is crushing on a girl who he’s missing after a one-night-stand. The outro on this track is really sweet and leads nicely into the next track, great sequencing.
“Better With You”
See, I love tracks like this. Melodic electric guitars and clicks make up the verse instrumental, which sits nicely under Craig’s soulful vocals. “Girl, with you I’m better” Craig sings he revisits a popular theme that’s popped up quite a lot already on this project. It’s not even repetitive, though, it’s just Craig, and it’s a perfect blend of storytelling, pristine melodies and exquisite production and mixing choices. I really appreciate how Craig’s broken up this project. I much prefer the tail-end of the record, but I know that when some of the first few songs come on I’ll just get gassed because the contrast is just that heavy.
“No Holding Back” (Feat. Hardwell)
Don’t speak too soon, Cam. This is a dance track through and through. Very cool transition from the previous track. Really different, too. ‘Better With You’ was very minimal in terms of its instrumental but this one has a deep bass-sub that you can feel in your stomach. I really like the vocals before the verse, they’re almost chanted by Craig and his layered vocals. The skittish drums and percussion are a welcome change from the more melodic and slow tracks that have come before this one. What a versatile project, jeez. Oh, here come the trademark Craig David bars and adlibs to outro the track.
“Here With Me”
Even more guitars! I love it. This one’s another throwback. Ooh, but this bass is killer. It’s almost like the verse has been split into two parts, a more organic intro and a livelier second half. Both parts meet for the hook which hears Craig sing “I’d give everything I have cause I know nothing matters, as long as you’re here with me”. Interesting structure on this song, another catchy hook. I’ve noticed a lot of vocal layering on this record and it’s really cool, actually. It gives a really anthemic feeling to the hooks, something you can imagine thousands of people singing at a festival.
“Warm It Up”
This is kinda “One Dance”-y. Another track with a tropical feel. It’s nice how Craig started the record with this type of vibe and he’s finishing it off in a similar fashion. Tribal chants in the pockets of the hook give it a primal feel, another sweet contrast to Craig’s popular melodies. The vocals from the intro have come back in underneath Craig’s outro vocals and this sweet bassline.
“Sink Or Swim”
Could this be any smoother? Could the piano’s be any nicer? What a beautiful track, wow. It’s tender and thought-provoking – additional vocal samples follow Craig’s melodies for a really nice effect. “You either sink or swim” is what Craig’s singing on the hooks, a dope concept that fits the track perfectly. What a dope outro to the album. Another contrasting middle filled with reverse instrumental effects ends the project as Craig elegantly exits with repeated vocals.
I’m not sure if I’ve heard an album as well-crafted as this one from 2016. Maybe the Jon Bellion album, but nothing out of the UK matches up to the musicality showcased on Following My Intuition by Craig David. A soulful memoir sprinkled with love-stories and impressively contrasted production, there is honestly something for everyone on this album. I’m definitely going to take another listen – I hope you enjoyed reading along with my narration of the album. For my first go at this 1st Listen Review thing, I couldn’t have picked a better put-together record – a blast to listen to and a moment to write about.
Anyway, that’s all from me! Check out the new Craig David album here and continue to support good music!