Here's the umpteenth variation on the classic Boyz II Men/Shai urban harmony quartet lineup, with strong, soulful results despite its obvious stylistic copycatting. This Atlanta foursome is obviously well churched, and their opening "Give Me Your Hand (Interlude)" hints at the classic gospel cool of Take 6. "Eye Candy," a midline groover typical of most of the material here, switches off between the harmonies, a few solo sections and Heather Hayes' smooth female counterpoints. The hooky ballads "Crave" and "Everything" dig a bit deeper into their vocal resources, but all of their impressive voice gymnastics are simply reflections of all that's gone before. For good measure, a few tracks even begin with the Barry White-like spoken words of love effect. Boxing great Evander Holyfield started Real Deal with the intent of signing spiritually inclined, uplifting soul acts, and while most songs are in the me-you love song vein, others like "Choose You" offer a more heavenly bent. With voices this strong, however, it would be interesting if 4 Shades went for broke next time and incorporated some tougher gospel edges into their mix. As of right now, they offer a wonderful listen that doesn't make much attempt to stand out from the pack.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran