Artful Dodger It's All About The Stragglers

Although the title of this UK two-step duo refers to tireless dancers still jamming on the floor as the sun rises, the alternative meaning of the word straggler could refer to North America's catching up with the latest genre of music to be ushered out of the UK. Two-step's amalgamation of house, R&B and ragga has reached mass appeal in its native land and the Artful Dodger is a prime example. The duo have had a string of hits at home, including "Rewind," which elevated teenaged vocalist Craig David to stardom before the singer reneged on his garage beginnings for contemporary R&B loot. Listening to the duo's album, it's easy to see how they provided the platform for the singer, who appears on three tracks here, to go this route. Many of the tracks flaunt a silky production style that wouldn't be out of place on the latest generic R&B record. But there are moments where they plumb bass-y depths to come up with some genuinely motivating tracks. "Woman Trouble" is put over the top by Robbie Craig's powerful vocal performance, and the aforementioned Craig David effortlessly commands the pulsing groove of "Whatcha Gonna Do." While it's a little too formulaic to be considered the genuine underground article, Artful Dodger's brand of two-step gives insight for those curious and new to the genre. (London)