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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

** 1/2 CRAIG DAVID, "Born to Do It,"\o7 Wildstar/Atlantic\f7

July 15, 2001|NATALIE NICHOLS

Electronic dance music and R&B-pop cozy up on the debut album (in stores Tuesday) from this Englishman, who at 20 has already been lauded to the max by homeland critics and who has sold millions in the U.K. and Europe. He's just breaking through in America, but David's fresh take on a much-reinvented genre--not to mention the summery feeling of such tracks as "7 Days"--make him a potential new favorite for U.S. listeners.

Now on the pop and R&B charts, the sexy-innocent single "Fill Me In" is a highlight. Reflecting David's fascination with, among other things, R. Kelly-style playa sensitivity and Terence Trent D'Arby's airy funk-pop, it blends his smooth-yet-rapid vocals with squishy bedroom soul and a windup-toy shop's worth of the tinkling, jingling percussion and skipping beats that mark the British dance style known as two-step.

David, an adept and seductive singer, switches easily into balladeer mode for such heartbreak numbers as "Key to My Heart," which is so sparkly it could be a Backstreet Boys tune. If he somewhat squanders his abilities on such silliness as the lightheartedly lascivious 'Booty Man," the wistful, folky "Walking Away" reveals deeper tendencies that may serve him well in the long run. David performs at the El Rey Theatre in L.A. on Thursday.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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