Craig David, Ronnie Scott's, London

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The Independent Culture

Craig David is the R&B singer a girl could take home to mother: mum is likely to be one of the 1.8 million people who bought his Born to Do It debut in 2000.

David took garage into the mainstream and became a world star with "Fill Me In" and "7 Days", though, by the time Slicker Than Your Average came out in 2002, his "fresh" sound had already turned into the cliché-laden "What's Your Flava?".

The Story Goes... underperformed even more in 2005 so there's a lot riding on Trust Me, his fourth album. As he points out during many of his endearing, informal song introductions, he was keen to reconnect with the soul music he grew up with. This, he does superbly throughout an uplifting 80-minute set, comprising his excellent new album performed in sequence and thoughtfully interspersed with four hits.

"Hot Stuff", the opener, and Trust Me's lead-off single, relies rather too heavily on a sample from David Bowie's infectious "Let's Dance" – not exactly an original idea. But then David's crack band hit the Cuban-flavoured groove of "6 of 1 Thing" and he effortlessly switches from singing to free-flowing rap – "Just like a yo-yo, how relationships go" – in the breathtaking style that has become his trademark.

The winning pop-dance of "Friday Night" is pure Kool & The Gang and confirms the belief that the appropriately-titled Trust Me will have David not only reconnecting with his original fanbase but also attracting soul and R&B fans who have so far been dismissive. He looks like Bobby Womack in his Seventies prime, though his falsetto is worthy of Stevie Wonder.

Just like Wonder, David has the occasional cheesy moment, even if "Awkward", his duet with Rita Ora, a 17-year old discovered by KT Tunstall's producer Martin Terefe, is all the better for being old-fashioned. David only goes back to the Sting-inspired "Rise & Fall", his 2003 hit, halfway through the set.

Lyrical frailty remains a chink in David's armour, all too obvious in the "We're all the same" sentiment of the message song "Top of the Hill". He is on much safer ground with the gorgeous "Kinda Girl For Me", which makes clever use of "You Are Everything".

By "She's on Fire" and "Walking Away", even the bar staff are dancing. A double salvo of "7 Days" and "Fill Me In", performed with just Kwame Yeboah on acoustic guitar, again showcase David's dizzying ability to free-flow, and the encore reprise of "Hot Stuff" has Ronnie Scott's jumping like a juke-joint.

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