Craig David - Signed, Sealed, Delivered (2010)

Craig David
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I'll be the first to admit loathing the multi-platinum Craig David of old. I found his teen brand of two-step soul/pop on songs like the international hits "Fill Me In," "7 Days," and "Walking Away" cloying and calculated to a fault. But he was, essentially, a child then. Since then, Craig has certainly left behind childish things, releasing brilliant soul pop collections like Trust Me and fine tributes like his most recent deliverance, Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

I'll be the first to admit loathing the multi-platinum Craig David of old. I found his teen brand of two-step soul/pop on songs like the international hits "Fill Me In," "7 Days," and "Walking Away" cloying and calculated to a fault. But he was, essentially, a child then. Since then, Craig has certainly left behind childish things, releasing brilliant soul pop collections like Trust Me and fine tributes like his most recent deliverance, Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

A child whose relationship with the golden years of Motown, Stax, and Atlantic are a generation removed, David and producer Jerry Abbott bring a frivolity and freshness to those labels' hits: speeding up tempos; adding new doo wop and disco harmonies; even writing new lyrics for timeless ideas. The results are a polished -- occasionally too polished -- modern collection of soul standards whose interpretations are far from the moldy covers everyone's been shaking out for commercial gain. From the lead single's house remix of the Four Tops "Standing In The Shadows Of Love," "One More Lie"  kicks off David's newer brand of soul: fun, timely, pristinely performed with a gentleman clean. It's a feat repeated on the funk-lite title track. However, David's brand of shine doesn't like to get its hands dirty. He too often opts for levity and vocal gymnastics when a heartfelt growl or slide note into pathos would get the job done more effectively, as on Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" or the Temptations' "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and "For Once In My Life." David does some of his most sincerely mature work on the lesser hits like "I Wonder Why" and rousing "This Could Be Love." Though David never steals these covers from their originators in the way, say, Bettye LaVette has on her Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook, there is an easy talent and a warm homage on display here, despite what you might have heard. While many critics have dismissed this as a karaoke album, I found it a welcome breeze on summer's drive.

Notable Tracks: "One More Lie (Standing In The Shadows)," "I Wonder Why," "This Could Be Love," "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay"

Vocals: 3.0 stars
Music: 3.0 stars
Lyrics: 4.0 stars
Production: 3.0 stars
SoulTracks Call: Recommended

By L. Michael Gipson

 
World Premiere - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"
Album of the Month - Jeffrey Dennis - "Lovin On You"
Featured Album - Leon Ware - "Rainbow Deux"

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