Take a tour from UKG into 2018...
'The Time Is Now'

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. Finally, it’s worth considering that David is still only 36, so still legitimately has visions of relevance, as evidenced by his recent collaborations with both Big Narstie and Kaytranada.

Ultimately, ‘The Time Is Now’ is an album that tries to tick all of those boxes. Given that 2-step hasn’t been a fixture in popular music for around fifteen years, its inclusion on a couple of tracks here can only be a nod to David’s commercial heyday. On top of that, there’s ‘Love Me Like It’s Yesterday’, an afrobeats-tinged track with an intro uncannily similar to Architects’ garage staple, ‘Body Groove’, and ‘Reload’, which is produced by Chase & Status but ultimately sounds like an Artful Dodger offcut.

These moments feel a little anachronistic, but when David tries to bring it into 2018, his success rate is a little more scattergun. Live In The Moment is produced by Kaytranada and is comfortably the best song here, with David floating effortlessly above the Canadian’s signature sound. On the flipside, there’s ‘For The Gram’, a desperate grab for relevancy that’s every bit as bad as its title suggests (sample lyric: “We do it for the Insta / We do it for the ‘gram / And when you’re done taking pictures / Don’t forget to hashtag”).

Overall though, ‘The Time Is Now’ hangs together relatively well, and achieves what it sets out to do. It’s worth bearing in mind that David’s career has been going for nearly two decades now, and he’s run the gamut from the country’s next big thing to – thanks to Leigh Francis – unwitting laughing stock. This album proves that he’s still an artist at the top of his game, and he’s got more staying power than most.

6/10

Words: Joe Rivers

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