Review Summary: Talented singer reacts too strongly to the relative lack of success of his previous edgier release and over-corrects to the safe & predictable here on this overlong 3rd album.
There is a phenomenon which you see every so often on the sports field; A golfer who misses a putt to the left and then misses his next to the right. A footballer (of any code) kicking for goal and doing the same. It is called “over-correction”. Sometimes it can be caused by uncontrollable factors such as wind or surface. But a major component to the over-correction process is pressure… Pressure emanating from both the public and from oneself. Believe it or not, it occurs in the music industry as well. Craig David’s 3rd album ‘The Story Goes…’ may be the perfect example of it.
Following the huge success (both critical and commercial) of his debut ‘Born To Do It’, David took on America with his follow-up effort ‘Slicker Than Your Average’. A sleeker, edgier and more American hip-hop oriented release, it saw the young Brit move too far out of his comfort zone and exposed his weaknesses, resulting in an inconsistent effort that was saved by its highlights. However, that approach was wisely ditched for ‘The Story Goes…’ and David returns to the predominantly smooth and likeable mid-tempo tracks that he is best known for. Unfortunately, he over-corrects and simply includes too many of those types of songs here.
The album does not begin that way though as opener and 1st single ‘All The Way’ is a nice little package of everything that David does well. A smooth feel-good anthem, David is near his best here and not far from it on the not too dissimilar track 3 ‘Hypnotic’ as well. Splitting them is the slower and more personal 2nd single ‘Don’t Love You No More (I’m Sorry)’, which showcases David’s smooth and likeable harmonies in amongst fairly predictable relationship breakdown-themed lyrics. This is a theme which resurfaces 2 tracks later on the slightly pacier ‘Separate Ways’.
The criss-crossing similarities between the first 4 tracks only work to highlight track 5 ‘Johnny’ as being the album’s centerpiece and most influential track (in more ways than one). The cut could arguably be christened David’s greatest achievement from a songwriting perspective as it is his most telling lyrically. Detailing schoolboy bullying with efficient detail and an effective viewpoint, this personal sounding aspect gives David’s effortless vocal performance more bite and substance than usual.
Unfortunately, there is a two-edged sword to the influence of ‘Johnny’ and the flip side to it (of no fault of its own) is that it begins a run of 4 tracks which are all rather methodical and predictable in their pace and structure. Nothing during this sequence is specifically terrible (‘One Last Dance’ and 3rd single ‘Unbelievable’ are actually rather decent), it is just that the lack of variation disappoints and ultimately frustrates. That deft and uncanny knack of subtly differentiating songs which David had earlier in his career appears totally gone here. Thankfully, the tedium is broken out of with the edgier dancefloor anthem ‘Just Chillin’ and the slinky cool follow-up ‘Thief In The Night’, both of which are pretty good without setting the world on fire.
However, any hope of the album ending on an upswing are dashed with the final 4 tracks simply being more of the safe, average, predictable and methodical dross which littered the album’s mid-section. Adding further fuel to the flames is the fact that those final 4 tracks all break through the 4 minute barrier, ultimately leaving the listener with a gross feeling of over-length for the album as a whole. ‘The Story Goes…’ would have best been served by ending at ‘Thief In The Night’ or at least following it by closing with ‘My Love Don’t Stop’ which is the best of the final 4. It definitely is not well-served by album lowlight ‘Take Em Off’, where David once more fails to impress in his attempt to be overly sexy in some sort of Barry White kind of way!
In isolation, ‘Take Em Off’ may be the only genuinely bad song of the 14 tracks included on ‘The Story Goes…’. However, too many more inclusions are simply too similar to each other and work counter-productively for the album as a whole. In other words, the album does not flow well, is overlong and contains too many methodically-paced tracks. Craig David has simply reacted too strongly to the relative lack of success of his previous release and over-corrected to the safe and predictable here.
Recommended Tracks: All The Way & Johnny.